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When I sat down to prepare for the press a second 
edition of the pamphlet which I pnbhshed nearly two 
years ago, I contemplated a tract of perliaps twice 
or thrice the size of the former edition. As the work 
grew under my hand, I soon perceived that it would 
make a fair-sized volume : by and by I found that it 
might be enough for two volumes. 

Under this change of circumstances, it became 
necessary to decide whether I should delay the pub- 
lication of any portion of the work until I had com- 
pleted the whole, or whether I ought not rather at 
once to issue the first part of it, which is really an 
enlargement of the former edition, and leave the 
remainder, which relates more especially to myself 
and the journey that my wife and I have just under- 
taken, to form not merely a second volume but a 
separate work. 

Feeling that the pubHc must be far more inter- 
ested in the fate of the hapless British Captives in 
Abyssinia than in our personal adventures, I have 
deemed the former course to be the preferable one. 
A further inducement for bringing this portion of\ my 
labours before the public without delay, is the con- 
sideration that the subject of the captivity of our 
countrymen, which has already attracted the atten- 




tion of the Legislature diirmg the last three sessions 
of Parliament, is sure to be again brought forward as 
soon as Parliament assembles, when it will likewise 
be necessary to discuss the Abyssinian Question with 
reference to all the circumstances which have led to a 
state of things so discreditable to the British name. 

But, though coming to the conclusion that it was 
better to defer my personal narrative for a separate 
work, 1 have found it necessary, in order to render 
the present volume complete in itself, to refer to 
several matters connected with myself and my late 
journey, which would have appeared more suitably 
in connexion with that narrative, had it formed a 
portion of the single work originally contemplated. 

I had also prepared some remarks on another sub- 
ject, which, being of a purely personal character, were 
in like manner intended to accompany that personal 
narrative ; but, for reasons which will be apparent, I 
have decided on publishing them here. 

My recent journey has in fact not merely been dis- 
pleasing to friends connected with the late Adminis- 
tration, but it has also given dissatisfaction to others 
more closely associated with myself personally. I 
am blamed for taking up a cause in which I am 
alleged to have no concern, for acting as a political 
partisan, and for being a dreamer, — and, what in a 
worldly sense is worse than all, an unprofitable 
dreamer. To the last of these charges alone do I 
j)lead guilty. In anything connected with Abyssinia, 
let it be wjiat it may, I cannot be said to have 
no coiiccrii. further, that I have not been actuated 
hy any party sjjii'it is I'stablished by the fact that 


ever since I returned from Abyssinia in 1843 till the 
publication of my pamphlet, ' The Prench and English 
in the Red Sea/ in 1862 — during the far greater por- 
tion of which long interval the party now in opposi- 
tion Avas in power — I proffered advice and assistance 
in the most friendly spirit, both to the Foreign Office 
and to the Board of Trade, though (as I have regret- 
ted to see) without any good effect. It was not till 
matters had gone so far that I felt I ought no longer 
to allow what I had said to remain hidden in the ar- 
chives of public offices, that I published that pamphlet; 
and even then what I made known was quite as much 
for the information of Her Majesty's Government as 
for that of the public. I may say the same as regards 
the first edition of the present work. 

As to my being a dreamer, whilst not denying the 
charge, I must say in extenuation that I have like- 
wise been a worker, and a hard worker ; and I ques- 
tion whether it has fallen to the lot of many persons 
who have dreamed so widely and apparently so wildly, 
to have seen, to such an extent as I have, their 
dreams " come true." 

Having said thus much, I am bound to say more, 
and I trust I shall be excused for availing myself of 
this opportunity to show the truth of what I have 
just asserted. 

My first dream, then, was one of my childhood. 
It was that I should some day live at the place to 
which my forefathers gave their name seven centuries 
ago. Three-and-thirty years have elapsed (a whole 
generation of man) since the time when, in anticipa- 
tion of my coming to live at Bekesbourne, I changed 


the spelling of my family name from Beek to Beke*. 
But before this my early dream was realized, I had 

* The name is Flemish — Van dcr Beke ; and its original form, 
or rather forms in England were De Bcke, Del Beke, and Do la 
Beke, or, vrrittcn as pronounced in Latin, De Beche, Del Beche, 
and De la Beche. In the course of time it came to be spelled 
Beake and Beak in East Kent, and Beeke and Beek in "West 

The llev. Christopher Beeke, father of Dr. Henry Beeke, Dean 
of Bristol, and my grandfather Charles Beek, were distant cousins, 
and both left the county, the former in 1736 for Devonshire, 
the latter in 1760 for London. They are thus mentioned for the 
pui-pose of placing on record two parallel anecdotes respecting 
my graiidfather and Dean Beeke, which arc too good to be lost. 

Charles Beek lived in Mile-end Kew-town, Stepney, and was 
a Jxistice of the Peace, a colleague and neighbour of his being 
Justice Wilmot of Bethnal Green. At that time, as there were 
no sti]>cndiary Magistrates, the resident Justices of the Peace in 
and about London acted as those in the country do now ; and my 
grandfather being an active and leading person within the Tower 
Hamlets, obtained in consequence the name of " King Beek." 

In the Gordon riots of 1780, when, as is known, the mob de- 
stroyed the houses of many of the nobility, magistrates, and 
other notables, a section of the rioters at the east end of the town 
were on their way to my grandfather's house, when a tenant of 
his, who had mixed in the crowd as a looker-on rather than as 
an actor, called out — " Don't let's go to King Beek's. He's a 
jolly good fellow. Let's go to Justice Wilmot's " — joining to his 
name a few choice but not very complimentarj- epithets. As in the 
case of another section of the same rioters at the Inner Temple 
gate, a chance word sufficed to turn the mob. To Justice Wil- 
mot's they went, sure enough, and burned his house down! 
Before they had time to think again of my grandfather, a party 
of liorsf'guards arrived to protect him. 

The other anecdote respecting Dean Beeke is almost identical. 
In the Bristol riots of 1831, the mob were about to destroy the 
Deanery, when some one suggested that they should not injure 
or molest the good old Dean, on which they went and destroyed 
the Bishop's i)alace instead I 


to wait seven-and-twenty years longer; for it was 
only in 1860 that I succeeded in coming to reside in 
the home of my ancestors. Whether I shall lay my 
bones where theirs were laid, is in the hands of the 
Disposer of all events, who has so graciously per- 
mitted me to worship Him where once they wor- 

That I should have changed the spelling of my 
name so long ago as 1833, was because I was at 
that time engaged in preparing for the press my work 
' Origines Biblicse ; or Researches in Primeval His- 
tory ' (a Book of Dreams — or " crotchets," as they 
have been styled by a high authority, who in so 
doing forgot himself) ; and I felt that when 1 came 
to occupy a niche in the Temple of Fame, as I 
" dreamed " I should, I must not do so under an 

Without desiring to enter upon any general consi- 
deration of that work, its scope, or its contents, I 
must still be permitted to allude to a few of the 
" dreams" contained in it. 

The first was that the land at the head of the 
Persian Gulf has advanced at so rapid a rate, as ma- 
terially to aflPect the comparative geography of Baby- 
lonia and the neighbouring regions. Of course 
this was pooh-poohed at the time : for had not 
scholars written erudite volumes on the assumption 
of there having been no change? and had not the 
learned Heeren even expressed the opinion that in the 
time of Nearchus the northern coast of the gulf ex- 
tended further south than it does at the present day ? 
Nevertheless, seventeen years afterwards, the Presi- 


dent of the Royal Geographical Society, (the late 
Admiral Smyth,) when adverting in his anniversary 
address to a dissertation of Sir Henry Rawlinson on 
the Biblical Cities of Assyria and on the geography 
of the Lower Tigris, in which it is stated that the 
Delta of the Tigris and the Euphrates " is found 
to have advanced since the commencement of the 
Christian era, at the extraordinary degree of a 
mile in thirty years — a rate of increase probably 
about twice that of the growth of the Sunderbunds 
or any other known delta" — added " This agrees, in 
fact, with the statements which Dr. Beke, one of your 
Fellows, j)ublished in the ' Philosophical Magazine ' 
as far back as February 1834; and in his ' Origines 
Bibhcae' in the same year"*. 

The next dream of * Origines Biblicaj ' w^hich has 
been realized is as to the site of the patriarchal 
Harran. This town is described in the Scriptures as 
being situate in Aram Kaharahu — " Syria of the Two 
Rivers;" which country has been placed by commen- 
tators between Euphrates and Tigris, the two rivers 
of Asshur or Assyria ; whereas it appeared to me to 
be between the two rivers of Aram or Syria, Abana 
and Pharpar. As there were no signs of a place with 
such a name in the locality indicated, my dream or 
" crotchet " was ridiculed or passed over without no- 
tice. Wwi, after many years, a place of the name was 
found to exist precisely where in 1834 I said it must 

♦ * Joum. Roy. Gcogr. Soc' vol, xxi. p. Ixxx. I should ex- 
plain that the article in the 'Philosophical Magazine' was the 
hccond chapter of ' Origines Biblicic,' puljlished in advance, as 
uas kno\s'n at the time to Sir Charles Lyell. 


exist; and towards the end of 1861, more than 
twenty-seven years afterwards, I performed a pilgrim- 
age to Harran, accompanied by my wife, who has 
written an account of our journey. 

Next is the position of Mount Sinai, my dream 
with respect to which is not yet reahzed, and hardly 
will be by myself, though the traditional mountain is 
already rent and shaken to its base, and cannot stand 
much longer. The true Mountain of the Law has to 
be sought for in the Desert of Arabia, east of the Ghor 
or Valley of the Jordan ; and the indications in Scrip- 
ture of its general locality are definite and absolute. 
In that desert " Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his 
father-in-law, the priest of Midian ; " and when " he 
led the flock to the west side of the desert," he " came 
to the Mountain of God, to Horeb"*. And at a 
later period of the Scripture History, the prophet 
Elijah, after eating and drinking in the desert of 
Beersheba, " went in the strength of that meat forty 
days and forty nights unto Horeb, the Mount of 
God," and thence, at the command of the still small 
voice, he "returned on his way to the desert of 
Damascus "f. Some traveller, younger, richer, more 
enterprising, and more favoured than myself, will, I 
feel persuaded, come forward ere long to search for this 
sacred spot, in the region thus indicated, taking, as I 
have done, the Bible as his sole guide, and carefully 
eschewing all traditional and (so called) authoritative 

The non-identity of Egypt with the Mitzraim of 

* Exod. iii. 1. The Authorized Version has " the back side of 
the desert." t 1 Kings, xix. 8, 15. 


the Exodus — another of my dreams — is the most 
paradoxical of all my " crotchets." But the results 
of modern discoveries and investigations are all tend- 
ing in that direction. And when we see such 
changes as in this present year, 1866, when Prussia 
and Italy are anything but the same countries they 
were only a few years back, it will no longer be 
astonishing that ]\lisr, under the rule of the Turkish 
Viceroys of Egypt, should not correspond with the 
Land of ]\Iitzraim, of which the Hebrew Joseph was 
made governor by Pharaoh. 

Another of my dreams is faintly indicated in 
' Origiues Biblicse.' Not very long ago, when I 
heard as it were the voice of a trumpet talking with 
me, I tried to rouse myself to work it out ; but I am 
not at present fit for the task, and it must still re- 
main as a vision of the night. 

The " dream " which has had the greatest influence 
on my actions — it having led to my travels in Abys- 
sinia, with all their results direct and collateral, and 
in the end to the production of the present volume — 
is that contained in pages 158 and 159 of ' Origincs 
Biblica3,' where, when exi)lainhig the Dispersion of 
Mankind in accordance with the principles enunci- 
ated in that work, and s})eaking in })articular of the 
descendants of Hani, I say : — " The other sons of 
Cush, in their progress southward, appropriated to 
themselves the eastern side, and in the course 
of time the whole, of the southern part of the 
peninsula of Araljia. Prom hence, as population 
increased, colonies of those Cushites, whose settle- 
ments lay towards the western side of tlu; [)cninsiila, 


crossed over into Ethio})ia, and settled there, be- 
coming the aboriginal inhabitants of that country, 
and being in fact the stock from which, in the 
progress of time, has sprung the greater portion of 
the negro nations by whom the vast continent of 
Africa is peopled." 

Abyssinia being thus indicated as the natural road 
of the human race into the interior of Africa, it 
naturally followed, as indeed history teaches, that 
this road should be that by which were introduced 
into that continent its three predominant religions, 
the Mosaic, the Christian, and the Mohammedan ; 
and hence I was led to the inference — it is, I trust, 
something more than a dream — that by the same 
road Africa will be regenerated by means of Eu- 
ropean commerce as the precursor of Christian civi- 

It further became manifest to me why during so 
many ages the vast continent of Africa has remained 
as it were a sealed book, and why the efforts of civi- 
lized nations to establish relations with the interior of 
that continent have had so little success. 

The arid and inhospitable character of the conti- 
nent of Africa, its want of navigable rivers, and the 
barbarism of its inhabitants have been alleged as 
causes for this strange anomaly. But, active as all 
those causes may have been and still continue to be, 
recent discoveries have shown that they are far from 
being true to the extent generally attributed to them; 
for it is now demonstrated that Africa possesses fer- 
tile and genial regions, large rivers and lakes, and an 
immense population, which, if not civilized, is yet to a 

XU I'llElACE. 

considerable extent endowed with kindly manners, 
lumianc dispositions, and industrious habits. 

The fundamental cause of the erroneous notions pre- 
valent respecting Africa is, that Europeans have always 
approached that continent in a wrong direction. To- 
wards the north, the districts skirting the Mediter- 
ranean Sea are cut off from the other portions of the 
continent by the rainless sands of the great Desert ; 
to\vards the west, the climate truly exercises those 
baneful influences on European constitutions which 
have stamped their mark on the rest of the continent; 
towards the south, the form of the peninsula, which 
there runs almost to a point, prevents ready access to 
the vast internal regions further to the north. On all 
these sides, however, have we during centuries per- 
sisted in our endeavours to penetrate inwards, while 
the east coast has been unattempted and remained al- 
most totally unknown. And yet it is in this direction 
that the interior of intertropical Africa is approachable 
with the greatest facihty. 

It w^as under the influence of the opinions thus ex- 
pressed, and with a view to their realization, in part 
at least, through my own exertions, that I undertook, 
in the year 1840, a journey to the kingdom of Shoa; 
whence, in the following year, I proceeded across the 
river Abai into Godjam, Damot, and Agaumider, pe- 
netrating westward over seven degrees of longitude 
and one-fifth of the way across the continent of Africa 
in the direction of the Gulf of Benin — an achievement 
wiiicli might iiavc been thought more of, had it been 
performed at tin; j)resent day instead of a quarter of a 
century ago ; and 1 returned home by a new road di- 


rectly across Abyssinia, from the extreme south-west 
to its furthest limit in the north-east. 

" Nor could his eye not ken 
The empire of Negus to his utmost port, 

But the exploration and mapping of countries for 
the use of subsequent travellers formed the least im- 
portant result of my geographical labours in Abys- 
sinia. My observations enabled me to form a theory 
of the true physical structure of that country, and of 
Eastern Africa generally, which is becoming accepted 
as the true theory. It is, that the principal mountain- 
system of Africa extends from north to south, along 
the eastern side of the continent, adjacent to the Red 
Sea and the Indian Ocean, resembling, in its direc- 
tion and rough parallelism to the coast, the Andes of 
South America and the Western Ghauts of India. 

A corollary from this theory was the determination 
of the position and direction of the snowy "Mountains 
of the Moon," in which the geographer Claudius 
Ptolemy placed the sources of the Nile. These moun- 
tains were universally supposed to traverse Africa pa- 
rallel to the equator, being so represented in all the 
maps ; whereas they are in reality merely a portion of 
the meridional range, of which the Abyssinian table- 
land forms the northern extremity. 

As regards the much-vexed subject of the Discovery 
of the Sources of the Nile, I have the satisfaction of 
knowing that whatever credit is due to me in this re- 
spect is now freely accorded to me by all whose 

* Arkiko, opposite Massowah. 


o})inions arc deserving of consideration as competent 
and impartial judges. 

I might allude to many other results of my jour- 
ney to Abyssinia, but will confine myself to pla- 
cing here on record the following remarks, extracted 
from a paper on " The Nile and its Tributaries," 
which was communicated by me to the Royal Geo- 
graphical Society in 1846, and published in the seven- 
teenth volume of the Society's 'Journal' (pp. 82, 83) : — 
" This survey of the physical character of the pla- 
teau of Eastern Africa cannot be concluded with- 
out special attention being directed to a most im- 
portant practical result which it affords. It is, that 
the eastern coast of that continent presents facilities 
for the exploration of the interior very superior to 
those possessed by the western coast. For, when the 
narrow belt of low land along the shores of the Indian 
Ocean — which, from its general dryness, arising from 
the absence of large rivers, is far from unhealthy at 
most seasons of the year — is once passed, and the 
eastern edge of the elevated tableland is attained, a cli- 
mate is met with, which is not merely congenial to Eu- 
ropean constitutions, hut is absolutely more healthy than 
that of most countries. I speak from the experience of 
iqmards of tioo years passed on the high land under cir- 
cumstances anything hut favourable. Here — that is 
to say, on the edge of the elevated plateau, and not in 
the low desert country along the sea-coast — settlers 
might take up their permanent residence, without 
apprehensions as to the effects of the climate at any 
period of the year ; while travellers might wait in 
safety, and even A\itli advantage to their health, till 


suitable opportunities should present themselves for 
penetrating westwards into the interior ; and, in the 
event of their having to retrace their steps, they would 
only return upon a healthy and delightful country, 
where they might remain till the proper season should 
arrive for their journey down to the coast. On the 
other hand, the climate of the western coast, even far 
inland, is notoriously such, that few can long with- 
stand its baneful influences ; while a traveller is ne- 
cessitated to press forwards, whatever may be the 
time of the year, whatever the condition of the coun- 
try, whatever even his state of health. And should 
he, from sickness or any other unforeseen circum- 
stance, be compelled to abandon his journey, he must 
do so with the painful knowledge that the further he 
retrogrades the more unhealthy are the districts which 
he has to traverse, and the less likelihood there is of 
his ever reaching the coast, more fatal than all the 

It will be observed that my assertion that the 
climate of Abyssinia is absolutely more healthy than 
that of most countries, was based on my own expe- 
rience of upwards of two years passed there under cir- 
cumstances anything but favourable. But what are 
these circumstances compared with those under which 
the Captives have passed three miserable years of their 
lives, and yet apparently with so little injury to their 
bodily health ? In any other country in the world, 
not blessed with such a climate, they must long ago 
have succumbed to the privations and hardships to 
which they have been subjected. 

It is requisite that I should dwell upon this point, 


because of the mistaken notions entertained by the 
British Government, not less than by the pubhc, re- 
specting the climate and physical character of Abys- 
sinia, whicli is in fact a temperate, well-watered, and 
most fertile country, inhabited by an agricultural and 
at the same time warlike people, and possessing capa- 
bilities not surpassed by those of any region on the 
face of the earth. 

The notions entertained . by our Government re- 
specting the approaches to Abyssinia in the event of 
a war arc, if possible, even more erroneous than those 
concerning the climate and physical character of that 

In ])age 206 of the present Work I have quoted 
the assertion of the late Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, deliberately made in the House of Lords less 
than a twelvemonth ago, that "to attempt to send an 
army across that deadly plain which separates Abys- 
sinia from the sea, and to penetrate into the interior 
of the country through mountain-passes and diffi- 
culties unknown, without any basis of operations or 
means of obtaining supplies, would have been a vain 
and idle endeavour." In page 178 I have shown 
what that " deadly plain " is " which separates Abys- 
sinia from the sea;" and I will now add that, when 
on the 29th of last April my wife and I stood 
oil the brink of the valley of the Iladas, within a 
mile of llalai, at an elevation of 8500 feet above 
the ocean — the tableland of Abyssinia there begin- 
ning and extending for hundreds of miles to the 
soutli and sontli-wcst — we could perceive the sea at 
Arkiko, op[)Osite to Massowali, and that island itself 


beyond, and we heard the report, of the guns of the 
Egyptian frigate ' Ismailiah,' sounding (it is to be 
feared) the death-knell of Christian Abyssinia*; whilst 
as regards a basis of operations, it exists in the sea 
off Adulis, whence the Sovereign of Ethiopia, the ally 
of the Emperor Justinian, transported 70,000 men 
into Arabia for the conquest of Yemen f; whither 
Captain Robert A. Parr, of H.M.S. ' Lyra,' was so 
good as to convey my wife and myself; and where, as 
that efficient officer would be able to report, a fleet of 
line-of-battle ships might lie in safety, at more than 
half the distance nearer to Halai than Arkiko. 

As to the alleged " mountain-passes and difficulties 
unknown," it might really be imagined that no Euro- 
peans had been in Abyssinia since the time of Bruce 
and Salt. And yet, within the last quarter of a cen- 
tury, there are few " unknown " countries that have 
been visited and traversed in all directions by so 
large a number of educated Europeans, many of 
whom have published their journals or digested 
narratives of their travels. 

That an army would be " without any means of 
obtaining supplies " in Abyssinia comes strangely 
from the Foreign Secretary, seeing that on March 
28th, 1848, I addressed to his Lordship's predeces- 
sor in office. Viscount Palmerston, a letter, in which 
I suggested the practicability of victualling a British 
army in the Red Sea by means of supplies drawn 
from Abyssinia. It has been said that the best way 
to publish a matter and yet keep it secret, is to get 
it printed in a Blue-Book. It would really seem that 

* Sec page 241 . t See page 1 77. 



the way to keep information from the knowledge 
of the Head of a Government Department is to com- 
municate it to himself officially. 

Yet, after all, our Government and our Government 
Offices are not entirely to blame. It is the British 
public, who, not imderstanding the subject and being 
too much occupied with matters nearer home to study 
it, do not interest themselves in it as they ought ; 
and our officials, perceiving that the public are not 
alive to the importance of the subject, are not sorry 
for any excuse for not troubling themselves with what 
does not concern those in whose service they are. 

Still this is no justification for the conduct of 
the Foreign Office and the India Office (for this 
latter Department likewise must come in for its share 
of blame) as regards the way in which this unhappy 
Abyssinian Question appears to have been dealt with 
from beginning to end. 

My duty however is, not to blame, but to enhghten 
the British nation on this dark and difficult subject. 
AVhen once the public, and especially the public 
press, is brought to understand it as it is requisite it 
should be understood, there can be no fear of its 
not being sifted to the bottom, and of justice being 
meted out to all with an equal and at the same 
time an unflinching hand. 

December 4th, 1866. 



Bntish Captives — Facts misrepresented and concealed — Aljys- 
sinia — its Sovereigns — Geographical and Political Divisions — 
Turkish Possessions — IVIr. Salt's Mission — Sahagadis — Ubye — 
Protestant Missionaries in TigTe — their Expulsion — Ptonian Ca- 
tholic Mission — English Eeligious and Political Missions to Shoa 
— their Failure 1 


Coptic Abuna — Protestant and Roman Catholic Rivalry — 
French and English in the Red Sea — Fate of Lord Palmerston's 
Letter — Mr. Coffin's Mission — British Consulate — Mr. Bell and 
Consul Plowden — Treaty between England and Abyssinia — its 
Impolicy — Consul Plowden's Report — Frontier Tribes — Raids of 
Turco-Egyptians into Bogos — Consul Plowden's Interference — 
Approval of British Government — Continued Aggressions of 
Egypt— Slave Trade 15 


Kassai of Kwara — his Rise to Power — Conquest of Amliara, 
Godjam, and Tigi-e — Crowned as Theodore, Emperor of Ethiopia 
— His Character — Great Reforms — Ambitious Projects — Reli- 
gious Intrigues — Banishment of Roman Catholics — The Theodore 
of Prophecy — Roman Catholic Pretender at Rome— Theodore set 
up by the Coptic Abuna — his Belief in his Divine Mission — Sub- 
sequent Change of Character and Conduct 30 





Theodore's Reception of Consul Plowden — He objects to a 
Consulate — Consul Plowden's Report — Lord Clarendon's Ap- 
proval of Proceedings — Proposed Embassy — Subsequent Nego- 
tiations — Consul Plowden's Conduct condemned and vindicated 
— Agau Negusye's Rebellion in Tigre — His Recognition by 
France — Cession to France of Adulis and Dissee — Captain de 
Russel's Mission — Consul Plowden and Mr. Bell killed — Theo- 
dore's "N'engeance — Defeat and Execution of Negusye — French 
Attempts on the Coast of Abyssinia — Zeila — Obokh 47 


Consul Cameron — ^His Reception by Theodore — Earl Russell's 
Letter — Negotiations for an Embassy aiid Treaty — Abyssinian 
Convent and ("hurcli at Jerusalem — Theodore's Letter to the 
Queen of England — Samuel, the Emperor's Steward — Proposal 
for a Mission from India 05 


Consul Cameron's Journey to Bogos — Blamed by Earl Russell 
— Correspondence with the Board of Trade respecting the Com- 
merce of Abyssinia — Consul Cameron ordered to report thereon 
— His Journey to Matamma — M. Lejean's Arrival in Abyssinia — 
His Imprisonment and Release — Consul Cameron's Return — In- 
ter\-iew with the Emperor — His Disgrace and Detention — Causes 
of the Emperor's Displeasure — M. Bardel's Return fi-om France — 
Emperor Napoleon's Letter — its Treatment — Consid Lejean ex- 
pelled — Consul Cameron's Despatches stopped — His Messenger 
l)eaten— Earl Russell's Despatch of April 22nd, 1863 — Theodore's > 
Letter to the Que^n ignored Sti 


Protestant Missionaries— not implicated in Disputes between 
Emperor and Consul — Imputations against tlicni unfounded — 


Commeucement of their Misfortunes — Letters from Mr. Sterii 
and Mr. Rosenthal — Bishop Gobat's Lay Missionaries — London 
Society's Mission — Scottish Mission — Differences among Mis- 
sionaries — Mr. Layard on Missions — Mr. Stern's Meeting witli 
the Emperor — Ilis Servant beaten to Death — Himself likewise 
beaten — Consul's Intercession rejected — Mr. Stern's Private 
Papers — Denoimced by M. Bardel — His Character — All Euro- 
peans imprisoned — Trial of Stem and Rosenthal — " The Kosso- 
seller's Son" — Their Condemnation — .Arrival of Mr. Kerans — Con- 
sul again ordered to Massowah — No Answer from the Queen — 
Consul Imprisoned — Theodore's singular Proclamation 10(5 


Continued Ill-treatment of Missionaries — Mr. Flad's proposed 
Jom'ney to England — Consid's Request to leave — Imprisonment of 
all Europeans — Abyssinians deprived of Convent at Jerusalem — 
Consid Finn removed — Consul Moore appointed — His Refusal 
of Protection — Earl Russell's Instructions — Memorial to the An- 
glican Chm-ch — Abyssinia claimed by Turkey — Transferred to 
Egypt — Egyptian Occupation — " The Abyssinian Question " — M. 
Bardel's Return and Imprisonment — Consul Cameron's Letter 
Home — Captives Tortured — The Convert Makerer — Repeated 
Torture of Captives — theii" Removal to Amba Magdala — De- 
scription of Fortress Prison — Captives double-ii-oned — theii- Re- 
lease — Consul Cameron's Letter to the Author — Aii-ival of News 
in England 128 


First News of Consul's Detention — not believed — Imprisonment 
of Missionaries — IShs. Stern's Petition — The Queen advised not 
to write to Theodore — London Society for Promoting Chris- 
tianity among the Jews — their Inaction — Reasons for it — Great 
Mistake — Missionaries might have been fi-eed — Anniversary 
Meeting — Silence recommended — Mr. Layard's Reasons for nut 



auswering Theodore's Letter — Consul Cameron's Note — Queen's 
Letter to Theodore — Entrusted to Mr. Kassam — Objections to 
him — Testimonials of Mr. Layard and Sir William Coghlan — 
Instructions to demand Consul's Release only-^Injustice to Mis- 
sionai-ies — Private Charge to exonerate Government — Mr. Ras- 
sam arrives at Massowah — annoimces Queen's Letter and asks 
for Escort— The Emperor's Anger — Refuses to notice him — Spies 
sent — Queen's Letter changed — Mission enlarged — Present of 
Firearms — Mr. Rassam remains unnoticed 147 


Discussions in Parliament — Lord Chelmsford's Motion for an 
Address — Sir Hugh Cairns's Inquuies — Further Papers produced 
— Inquiry deprecated hy Government — Alleged Fear of offending 
Theodore — Real Fear of merited Censure — Offensive Language of 
Earl Russell and Mr. Layard — Commented on in Newspapers — 
Earl Russell decides on replacing Mr. Rassam — The Author's 
Offer of Services — Mr. Palgrave preferred — Author's Letters to 
Earl RusseU — Mr. Palgrave's Mission — On the point of leaving 
Egypt — Mr. Rassam arrives there — Mr. Palgrave stopped — Re- 
port of Consul Cameron's Release — its Falsehood — Mr. Rassam 's 
Letter to Earl Russell — Emperor's Letter — Difference between 
Mr. Rassam and Mr. Palgrave — The former prevails — retui'us to 
Aden — Mr. Palgi-ave remains in Egypt — For what Purpose ? . . . . 1G2 


No News at Aden of the 'Victoria' — The 'Surcouf sent to 
Massowah to inquire — Letters from the Captives — Messenger 
refuses to give them up— The ' Sm-couf ' comes back for them — 
The Captives double-ironed — Mr. Rassam's Return from Suez — 
goes again to Massowah— Departure for the Interior— M. Mun- 
ziuger — Adulis a Key to Abyssinia — kno^ATi to Greeks — and to 
French— Ignorance of English— Road by the Iladtis— Mr. Ras- 
tam's Journey by Bogos — Arrival at Matamma — Arrival of Es- 



cort — Departure for Debra Tabor — Gaftat — Stopped by Rebels — 
Route changed — Arrival at Emperor's Camp — Report of Pro- 
ceedings — Interview with Emperor — The Queen's Letter pre- 
sented — Theodore's Grievances— Consul and Missionaries blamed 
— Captives ordered to be liberated — The Emperor's Army — its 
March — Friendly Behaviour towards Mr. Rassam — All Eiu'o- 
peans accused — Mr. Rassam complimented — Charges untrue and 
absurd — Mr. Kerans — imprisoned without cause — Letter to his 
Parents — Hand- and foot-chains — Illustrations — Madness of Cap- 
tives — Sufferings worse than on " the Middle Passage " — Parlia- 
mentary Inquiry called for 172 


Mr. Rassam's Report continued — Present of 15,000 Dollars — 
Captives ordered to be released — Journey from Magdala — Ar- 
rival at Korata — List of Prisoners released — Mr. Rassam ho- 
nored — deceived — His mistaken Estimate of Abyssinians — 
Trial of Captives — their alleged Confession — Mr. Waldmeier's 
Statement — Mr. Purday's Reply — Reasons for Mr. Rassam's Re- 
port — Expected Success — Desire to screen himself and the Go- 
vei-nment — Missionaries without Defence — Consul to be blamed 
and employed elsewhere — Failure of Plan — Real Truth — The 
Captives are State Prisoners 199 


Theodore's Answer to the Queen — a Mockery — written for 
him — His Letters to the Author — Captives start from Korata — 
stopped — Mr. Rassam and aU chained — Mr. Flad sent to Eng- 
land — Bad News concealed — Cause of Detention — Departure 
without leave — Mr. Rassam objects to remain alone — Dr. Blanc 
offers to stay with him — Mr. Rassam's Detention predicted by 
the Author — Danger of Detention 217 




Change of Ministrj- — Lord Stanley's Alternative — Peace or 
War — Former decided on — Object of Mr. Flad's Mission — 
'' Machines and Gunpowder-makers " — Government Assistance — 
Macliinery ordered — Mr. Talbot and six Workmen engaged — ]\Ir. 
Flad sees the Queen — Her Majesty wi-ites again to Theodore — 
insists on Liberation of the Captives — Later Intelligence — All 
sent Prisoners to Magdala — Cause — Evil Reports — Railroad from 
Suwakiu to Kassala — Articles in Newspapers — Egyptians at Mas- 
sowah and on the Frontiers — Departure of Mr. Flad — of Mr. 
Talbot and Workmen — of Colonel Merewether — to await Arrival 
of Mr. Flad and Captives before going on — The Author's Pre- 
sents given over — Abyssinian Captives Liberation Fund — Elec- 
tric Telegraph — Regeneration of Abyssinia 229 


Relations of England to Abyssinia — Professed Policy to pro- 
mote Trade — not acted on — Real I'olicy — Covert War with 
France — The French and English in the Red Sea — M. JMunzin- 
ger's Charge against Consul Plowden — He caused Roman Catholics 
to be banished — established a Protestant Mission — Charge dis- 
proved — Bishop Gobat's Missionaries — to work at then- Trades 
— to say Nothing about Religion — Mr. Waldmeier's Missionary 
Labom-s — " The Book of Quinte Essence " — " Mm-der " of Consul 
Plowden — France, Roman Catholics, and the Sea-coast — Eng- 
land, Protestants, and the Interior — Author's Interview with 
Earl Russell — with Lord Palmerston — Consul Cameron's In- 
structions — History repeats itself — Venetians aided Turks against 
I'ortuguese — English League with Turks against French — Aban- 
donment of Chi-istian Abyssinia to Mohammedans — Earl Russell's 
Justification — Right of Turkey disputed — French Pretensions 
continued — Roman Catholic Missions prosper — Protestant Mis- 
sions withdrawn — No Hope of Christianity in Abyssinia, but in 
Rome and France 2ol 




Policy of England — its Eifects on Abyssinia — Massowah and 
Sea-coast offered to Theodore — Lord Clarendon's Consent — 
Consul Plowden's Death- — Captain Cameron's Appointment — 
Change of Policy — Abyssinia abandoned to Turkey — Consul's 
Acts repudiated — Sir William Coghlan's Evidence as to altered 
Policy — Theodore retaliates — makes War after his Fashion — 
England defeated and sues for Peace — Theodore's Conduct con- 
doned — Treaty with Mr. Rassam — to be confirmed by Colonel 
Merewether — Mr. Rassam and Captives imprisoned — Vacillating 
Policy of England — State of Parties in Abyssinia — Tadelu 
Gwalu in Godjam — Cause of Theodore's Downfall — Prestige 
gone — French in Shoa and Tigre — King Menilek of Shoa — 
Oizoro Warkyet at the head of WoUo Gallas — Tessu Gobazye 
in North-west Provinces — Waagshum Gobazye — King Hezekiah 
— Future Emperor — State of Parties in Tigre — Warfare — The 
" Battle of Axum " — Compte Bisson's Report — Englishmen said 
to be present — Report a Fabrication — Doubts as to Battle — Its 
ProbabUitj- — Possibility of Theodore's Presence — False Report of 
Execution of Captives — Futm'e Policy of England — Treaty 
with Theodore too late — Machines and Gimpowder-makers use- 
less without fm-ther Help — Author's Suggestions — England 
worse off than in 1847 — Enlightened Policy of France — Eng- 
land drifting with the Stream — Sooner or later War 275 


I. Letter from Dr. Beke to Viscomit Palmerston, G.C.B., Se- 
cretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated April 4th, 1848 295 

II. Proposal for a Tram-road between the Cotton-fields of 
Ethiopia and the Coast of the Red Sea 301 

III. Letter from Consul Cameron to the Emperor of Abys- 
svnia 312 

XXVI coxtj:nts. 

IV. Four Letters from Dr. lieke to Earl Russell, K.G., Secre- 
tary of State for ForeigTi Affairs, dated respectively May 19th, 
aud .July 7th, 21st, and 22nd, 1865 310 

V. Extracts from Letters from the Rev. H. A. Stern and Mr, 
Rosenthal, -v^Titten during their imprisonment at Amba Mag- 
dala 333 

VI. Petition to the Emperor Theodore from the Relatives of 
the Captives, and Correspondence between His Majesty and Dr. 
Beke 390 


A British Captive at Magbala Frontispiece 

Mav of Abyssenlv to face page 1 

ABYS.SIXIAN Slave-shackles 195 

Seal op " The ICxng of Kings, Theodore of Ethiopia". . . . >S0 







Nearly three years have elapsed since the sad and truly 
astonishing intelligence was received, that the Christian 
Sovereign of a Christian African people, who, though re- 
mote from the civilized world, have during centuries pos- 
sessed the sympathies of their co-religionists in Europe, 
had perpetrated acts of the grossest cruelty towards several 
Europeans resident within his dominions, who had long en- 
joyed his favour and protection : acts more in accordance 
with the customs of the brutish pagan nations of Western 
and Central Africa, than suited to a people on whom the 
light of the Gospel shone in an age when the greater 


portion of tlic now civilized nations of Europe were still 
in utter darkness. 

Captain Cameron, Her Britannic Majesty^s Consul in 
Abyssinia, two missionaries of the London Society for 
promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, and several other 
British su])jccts and persons connected with British mis- 
sionary societies, — men, women, and children, — have been 
for three years the captives of Theodore, Emperor of Abys- 
sinia, an Afi'ican potentate, whose name was previously 
unknown to a large majority of the British nation. Her 
Majesty^s Representative and several of these captives 
have further been subjected to the greatest indignities 
and even to cruel torture, and they have long remained 
in prison, chained hand and foot, herded together with 
the lowest criminals; whilst to add to the difficulties 
and disgrace of all parties concerned, Mr. Rassam, the 
Envoy sent by the Government of this country with a 
letter signed by Her Majesty's own hand, with a view to 
effect the liberation of the unfortunate persons who have 
so long lingered in captivity, has himself been thrown into 
prison, together with the members of his suite. 

What the cause is of all this ill-usage of Her Ma- 
jesty's subjects and others and of this great indignity to 
the British nation, remains stdl almost as little truly 
known to the public, as it was on the day (March 12th, 
1864) when the news first arrived in England of the 
imprisonment and illtrcatmcnt of these unfortunate Eu- 

The subject has been mooted during the last three 

* Tlie previous detention of Consul Cameron was knovni in Europe 
as early as December 10th, 18G3, but was heeded by no one. 


sessions of Parliament; and, thougli at first treated as 
insignificant, it has day by day gone on increasing in im- 
portance, till at length it has come to be regarded as a 
national question of the greatest magnitude, involving 
not only the character of the late Administration, but that 
also of the British nation. It is fervently hoped — though 
almost against hope — that nothing will intervene to pre- 
vent the eventual liberation of the unfortunate captives. 
But under any circumstances it behoves the public to 
know the real facts of the case, which have hitherto 
been most grievously misrepresented and by every pos- 
sible means attempted to be concealed. As far therefore 
as those facts have come to my knowledge, I have put 
them together and arranged them in a connected form ; 
so as to give a narrative of the events that have led to 
the present deplorable state of affairs, the treatment to 
which our unfortunate countrymen have been subjected, 
and what has been done to procure their liberation, — a 
task which my long residence in Abyssinia, the relations 
I have continued to keep up with that country, and espe- 
cially the journey from which I have recently returned, 
have furnished me with peculiar means of performing. 

Before commencing this narrative, it is advisable that 
I should give a brief summary of the geographical and 
political condition of the country which is the scene of 
these lamentable occiu-rences, in order that the subject 
may be rendered intelligible to the general reader. 

The once rich and powerful Christian empire of Ethio- 
pia, commonly known as Abyssinia or Habesh, has, during 
the last three centuries, been in a progressive state of 
decay. Its fertile provinces have been overrun and devas- 

R 9 


tatcd b}^ numerous tribes of pagan Gallas from the south, 
whilst the occupation of its entire seaboard by the Turks 
has annihilated its commerce and shut it out from com- 
munication witli the civilized world. The empire itself, 
thus weakened and debased, has become the prey of in- 
testine wars and anarchy, till at last it has almost lost its 
place ill the list of nations. 

Until the accession of the reigning sovereign, Theodore, 
whose singular history will be related in the sequel, Abys- 
sinia was an hereditary monarchy, under the sway of an 
Emperor claiming descent from Solomon, king of Israel, 
and the Queen of Sheba. Though this parentage is of a 
character similar to that of the ancient kings of Britain 
and Scotland, there are few Christian sovereigns who can 
boast of a more illustrious lineage than the Emperors of 
Ethiopia, Avhose progenitors received the Christian faith 
and possessed a native version of the Holy Scriptures as 
early as the fourth century. 

The occupiers of the tlirone of theii* once absolute and 
mighty ancestors had, for a considerable time past, been 
mere puppets in the hands of the one or the other of their 
powerful vassals ; the form having been kept up of nomi- 
nating a sovereign of the line of Solomon, who, however, 
remained a prisoner in his palace at Gondar, his sole 
revenue consisting of a small stipend and the tolls of the 
weekly market of that city^. 

From about the commencement of tlic present century 

until the year 1853, the seat of government and the per- 

• It is said that the present intrusive Emperor Theodore still con- 
tinues to treat Ilatsye Yohannes, the puppet Emperor, as his suzerain, 
standing in liis presence with his body uncovered down to the waist, 
;v.^ Abyssinian servants are used tu do when waitinjr on tlieir master. 


son of the sovereign remained, though with occasional in- 
terruptions, in the hands of the chiefs of a powerful tribe 
of Yedju (Edjow) Gallas, who for three generations had 
been able to secure to themselves the dignity of Ras or 
Vizier of the empire — that is to say, to become its sove- 
reigns in everything but in name. This sovereignty within 
the central portion of the empire, however, was far from 
giving them the command over the outlying provinces. 
On the contrary, each ruler of a province mostly acted as 
an independent sovereign; and if at any time he found 
himself strong enough to march upon the capital, he did 
so, placed upon the throne another puppet sovereign, and 
was by him appointed Kas or Vizier, which dignity he re- 
tained till a rival stronger than himself could turn him out 
and take his place. Under such circumstances, it is no 
wonder that there should have been at one time half-a- 
dozen titular Emperors, and that the Governor of each of 
the principal provinces should have assumed the title of 
Ras, and continued to bear it even when no longer in 

It would be no easy task to enumerate all the sections 
into which, through wars and their consequences, this un- 
happy country has become divided. For all practical pur- 
poses it will be sufficient to particularize Amhara, as the 
central portion of Abyssinia, containing the capital, is 
generally though incorrectly called — " Amhara " being 
properly a province of Central Abyssinia, now principally 
in the possession of Mohammedan Gallas of the Wollo 
and Yedju tribes, and the stronghold of the family and 
partisans of Ras Ali ; — Tigre in the north-east, and Shoa in 
the south-east of Amhara, which two provinces have spe- 


cially become knoAvn to European nations tkrough the 
alliances and diplomatic relations into which, separately 
and as independent States, they have entered either with 
England or with France; — to which have to be added 
Godjam, in the extreme south-west, Kwara, in the ex- 
treme north-Avest, and Lasta, a portion of Central Abys- 
sinia, situate to the south of Tigre. 

Tigi'c is the representative of the kingdom of the Axu- 
mites of ancient history. It adjoins the Turkish island 
and port of Massowah in the Red Sea, round which it ex- 
tends full one hundred and sixty miles to the west and 
south ; so that, without passing through it, no communi- 
cation can be held with Amhara or any other portion of 
the interior. It is almost entirely surrounded by the 
river Takkazye, which separates it from the rest of Abys- 
sinia, fi'om which it is further distinguished by its lan- 
guage, the representative of the ancient Ethiopic or Geez, 
in which is the early version of the Bible. 

The physical conformation of Shoa enabled it to pre- 
serve its independence when the rest of Abyssinia, except 
Tigre, was overrun by the Gallas ; and it has long been 
governed by a native race of princes, wlio, Avithout taking 
part in the distm'banccs of the rest of the empire, have 
transmitted the crown from father to son duiing eight 

God jam, from its lying within the curve of the river Abai 
(the "Nile " of the Portuguese and of J3ruce), has always 
maintained a (piasi-indcpcndence ; and its rulers, like those 
of Tigre, have at times gained possession of the capital 
and the person of the nominal sovereign, and been by him 
a])i)oint((I lias (jr \ izier, with the real ])o\ver. 


Kwara^ though usually recognizing the sovereignty of 
the nominal Emperor or his representative, has long been 
noted for the successful stand its chiefs have made against 
the inroads of the Turco-Egyptians ; and it has recently 
become yet more distinguished from its having given to 
the empire its actual ruler. 

Lasta is the least known though most remarkable 
portion of Abyssinia, its inhabitants speaking a language 
radically different from those of Tigre and Amhara, and 
being apparently the descendants of the primitive occu- 
pants of the whole country. Their hereditary princes 
possess extensive and peculiar privileges, but disclaim all 
honorary titles at the hand of the Sovereign, by whom 
they are, however, treated as equals ; contenting them- 
selves with the simple designation of Shum or governor, 
a title which is borne by the head man of a village, and 
even the steward of a gentleman's household. The prince 
of Lasta, who is styled Waag-shum, or Governor of 
Waag, has Always been a faithful vassal of his suzerain ; 
till in the person of Gobazye, the present holder of tliat 
rank and title, a pretender to the imperial throne has 
arisen, who bids fair to play a prominent part in the his- 
tory of the empire. 

Before concluding these geographical and political de- 
finitions, essential to the proper understanding of the sub- 
ject, it has to be remarked that Abyssinia, the country 
comprising the several States just named, is a high table- 
land separated from the sea by a belt of low and almost 
waterless desert, very narrow at the north in the neigh- 
bourhood of Massowah, and widening towards the south, 
till, in the latitude of Zeila, which is nearly that of Slioa, 


the edge of the tableland recedes almost 200 miles from 
the coast. These lowlands, formerly more or less under 
the sway of the Emperors of Ethiopia, are now occupied 
by various independent Dankali tribes, who, with their 
neighbours the Somaulis and other nomadic people yet 
further south, are commonly, but erroneously, called 
Hubshecs {Habshis) or Abyssinians, which frequently 
causes no little confusion. The Abyssinia of history is 
properly limited to the high tableland, and so the term 
is employed here. 

Since the middle of the sixteenth century, when the 
Turks with the aid of the Venetians drove the Portuguese 
out of the lied Sea, the Ottoman Porte has claimed the 
entire sea-board along the territory of these Dankali 
tribes ; a claim Avhich the natives have not had the 
power nor the inclination to resist. Until quite recently 
the Turks actually occupied only the ports of Sawakin 
and !Massowah, though they have occasionally made de- 
monstrations along the coast for the purpose of asserting 
their sovereignty. The transfer to the Pasha of Egypt of 
the entire possessions of the Ottoman Porte on the western 
shores of the Red Sea, which has been made only during 
the present year, may, however, give to Mohammedan- 
ism in North-eastern Africa a vitality which it has not 
hitherto possessed ; and it may even cause the pretensions 
of Turkey to the sovereignty of the whole of Chi-istian 
Abyssinia, to become something more than merely no- 
minal, as they have been until now. 

The foregoing remarks will, it is hoped, enable the reader 
to follow the course of events about to be narrated. 

The attempt of the J'rench to acquire possession of 


Egypt, towards the close of the last century, naturally led 
the English to direct their attention to the Red Sea and 
Eastern Africa ; and in 'the year following that of the 
defeat and expulsion from Egypt of the invaders, Lord 
Valentia, the nephew of Marquess Wellesley, Governor- 
General of India, undertook a voyage into the Indian seas, 
on which occasion he dispatched his Secretary, Mr. Salt, 
afterwards Consul- General in Egypt, into Abyssinia. 

Mr. Salt was unable to penetrate beyond Tigre, where 
he was well received by the ruler of that province. Has 
Walda Selasye, with whom, as the representative of the 
then reigning sovereign, he entered into friendly relations. 
In the year 1810, Mr. Salt returned to Abyssinia, bear- 
ing a letter and presents from King George III. to the 
Emperor; which he however delivered to Has Walda Se- 
lasye, owing to the hostilities between that prince and Ras 
Guksa, chief of the Yedju Gallas, who had then acquired 
the supremacy in Amhara. 

Mr. Salt ha^dng been accredited to the Emperor of 
Abyssinia, and Guksa being at that time the actual Ras or 
Vizier, the latter, and not Walda Selasye of Tigre, was the 
legal representative of the reigning sovereign, and to him 
the King of England^s letter and presents ought to have 
been delivered. But, as the object of the mission was to 
establish friendly relations with Abyssinia, and as for that 
purpose it was essential to cultivate the friendship of the 
prince whose dominions surrounded Massowah, the only 
port by Avhich the country coidd well be approached; 
Mr. Salt very sensibly addressed himself to Ras Walda 
Selasye, to whom, as the independent ruler de facto of 
the province and ancient kingdom of Tigre, he delivered 


the presents destined for the titular Emperor of the whole 

Ahuost simultaneously with Mr. Salt^s second visit to 
Abyssinia, the power of the French in the Indian seas was 
annihilated, by the capture of the Islands of Bourbon and 
Maui'itius and the destruction of their settlements on the 
coast of jNIadagascar ; and a few years later the fall of 
Napoleon led England to imagine there was no longer any 
cause to fear the aggressions of France in the East. As 
oui' statesmen, unlike those of France, do not possess any 
"ideas^' on the subject, Abyssinia ceased therefore to be 
an object of solicitude. 

But, though all diplomatic relations between England 
and Tigre were at an end, a certain connexion was still 
kept up by means of two Englishmen, named Pearce and 
Coffin, who had accompanied Mr. Salt to Abyssinia, and 
who remained behind when he left. In 1819, Pearce 
quitted Abyssinia for Egypt, where Mr. Salt was Consul 
General ; but Coffin took up his permanent residence 
in Tigre, where he enjoyed the confidence of Dedjatj 
Sabagadis, who, shortly after lias Walda Selasye^s death 
in 1816, acquired the government of that province. 

Mr. Salt had, on his second visit to Tigre, become ac- 
quainted with Sabagadis, then a young man, of whose dis- 
position and talents he was led to form a high opinion, 
and whose future elevation he foretold. When he saw his 
predictions thus verified, it was only natural that lie should 
feel great interest in Sabagadis, and should keep up 
fiMcndly relations witli hiiu. llcncc it arose that, in 1828, 
Coffin, in concert with a Dankali chief named Ali, was 
sent by Sabagadis to Bombay and Egypt, and afterwards 


to England, to negotiate for a supply of arms ; but, wliilc 
he was still absent on this mission, Sabagadis was, in 1831, 
attacked by the united forces of his rivals, Ras Marye 
(Guksa's son and successor) and Dedjatj Ubye of Semyen, 
by Avhom he was defeated, made captive, and put to death. 
After this, Ubye assumed the government of Tigre, in ad- 
dition to his own hereditary province of Semyen ; and he 
continued to rule over both as an independent sovereign 
until the year 1855, becoming soon so powerful as to be 
able to contend with Ras Ali for the supreme dominion. 

Marye, who was killed in the same battle as Sabagadis, 
was succeeded as Ras by his brother Dori, the dignity 
thus continuing hereditary in Guksa^s family ; and Dori 
having died shortly afterwards, he was succeeded by his 
nephew Ali, who continued to rule in Amhara until re- 
cently, when, as will be related in the sequel, the same 
superior power overwhelmed both him and his rival, Ubye 
of Tigre. 

Various circumstances, which need not here be adverted 
to, but especially the fact that Sabagadis was most favour- 
ably disposed to everything English, induced the Church 
Missionary Society to establish a mission in Abyssinia. 
All the missionaries were either Germans or Swiss, the 
first of them being Dr. Gobat, now Anglican Bishop of 
Jerusalem, who arrived in Tigre towards the end of 1829 ; 
and the mission continued till 1838, when (as is stated 
in Bishop Gobat' s ' Journal of a Three Years' Residence 
in Abyssinia'), '^ through the influence of certain mem- 
bers of the Church of Rome, opposition was raised against 
the missionaries by the Abyssinian priests, and they were 
compelled to quit the country and return to Egypt." 


There is no question that Bishop Gobat is substantially 
right in this assertion. Still it is not less certain that 
other causes likemse operated. For the fact cannot be 
concealed, that, after the death of Sabagadis, the sym- 
pathies of the Protestant missionai'ies were entirely with 
their late protector's family, wlio, instead of submitting to 
the conqueror Ubye, continued for many years in open 
hostilities against him. And when, in the year 1832, shortly 
after Sabagadis^s death, the Englishman Coffin arrived at 
Massowah with a large number of muskets, as a present 
from the British Government to that chief; instead of 
keeping them back altogether, as the prince for whom 
they were destined was then no more, or else handing 
them over to Ubye as the ruler de facto of Tigre (in which 
he would only have followed the precedent of his patron, 
Mr. Salt, with respect to the presents destined in 1810 for 
the titular Emperor), Coffin gave a considerable portion 
of those muskets to the sons and relatives of Sabagadis, 
who were in arms against Ubye, and so enabled them to 
^vithstand him for many years. Added to this. Coffin 
attached Inmself personally to the interests of the family 
of Sabagadis, and is generally understood to have led 
them to look for assistance from England, and thus to con- 
tinue their fruitless attempts to acquire the sovereignty of 
Tigre. Under such circumstances, it may readily be be- 
lieved that Ul)ye and his adherents were not likely to be- 
friend the Eiifjlisli missionaries, who, hoping perhaps that 
the relatives of Sabagadis would eventually gain the upper 
hand, certainly took no pains to conciliate the ruling 
powers either in Church or State. 

The Roman ('atholic mission, which was established on 


the expulsion of the Protestant clergymen by Padre Giu- 
seppe Sapeto, had for its head Padre de' Jacobis, a Neapo- 
litan of noble family, under whose able direction it soon 
took deep root in Abyssinia, where it still flourishes, not- 
withstanding the disgrace and subsequent death of its able 
and accomplished chief, who, in addition to his zeal for the 
spread of his faith, was the prince of political intriguers. 

When the Protestant missionaries were expelled from 
Tigre in 1838, they directed their steps towards Shoa, 
where they arrived in the following year, and established 
their mission under the most favourable auspices. But 
hardly were they settled, when they were troubled by the 
appearance of M. Rochet (afterwards French Consul at 
Djidda), who soon ingratiated himself with King Sahela 
Selasye, and was sent by that monarc'h, in March 1840, 
with presents to King Louis Philippe. 

At that particular juncture, the participation of England 
and France in the disputes between the Sultan and his 
powerful vassal, Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, threatened 
to cause hostilities between those two Powers; and the 
British Government, again alive to the importance of 
Abyssinia in such an event, lost no time in sending to 
Shoa a mission under the direction of Major (afterwards 
Sir William) Harris. 

This mission arrived in Shoa in July 184<1, six months 
after I had reached that country, whither I had jDroceeded 
from Aden by the way of Tadjurrah (the road followed by 
Major Harris), taking with me, as my servant, a young 
Dankali named Hussein, or Samuel Georgis, who is the 
son of the chief Ali, Mr. Cofiin's companion in 1838, and 
who has recently become known, in connexion with the 


unfortunate British captives^ as " Samuel, the Emperor's 

It is needless to dilate on the objects and proceedings 
of Major Harris's mission, or on its lamentable failure. It 
will be sufficieut to say that scarcely had the British 
envoy concluded a treaty of amity and commerce with 
the King of Shoa, by which the latter engaged to respect 
the persons and property of British subjects, than the 
Rev. J. L. Krapf, a Chui'ch missionary established in 
that countiy since 1839, who in March 184^2 had un- 
dertaken a journey into Northern Abyssinia, was pre- 
vented by the King from passing through the coast 
lands of the Dankali tribes, on his return to Shoa by 
the way of Tadjurrah, in November of the same year — 
and this in spite of the representations of the British 
envoy, who was also unable to save from confiscation 
the property which Mr. Krapf had left in Shoa; and 
that shortly afterwards the English mission left the coun- 
try and returned to Bombay. 

It may be regarded as mere surplusage to add that the 
Protestant Church mission in Shoa was abandoned. 




Such was the unsuccessful issue of our relations, both 
religious aud political, with Southern Abyssinia; more 
fortunate, however, than those with Northern Abyssinia, 
inasmuch as they had no consequences, as the latter 
had — consequences which have been in operation till the 
present day, and unhappily have not yet come to an end. 

The seed of all the troubles that have arisen was sown 
by the expulsion of the Protestant missionaries from Tigre 
in 1838, and the establishment there of a Roman Catholic 
mission. The first fruit of that seed was produced within 
two years afterwards, in the circumstances attending the 
nomination and consecration of the present Abiina or 
Bishop of Abyssinia. According to the constitution of the 
Church of that country, which is said to have been esta- 
blished by Abuna Tekla Haimanot, the last native bishop 
in the thirteenth century, the Abyssinian Church receives 
its bishop from the see of St. Mark, in the person of a 
Coptic priest consecrated by the Patriarch of Alexandria. 
In the year 1840, when the metropolitan see of Abyssinia 
had been vacant thirteen or fourteen years, Dedjatj Ubye 


of Tigrc, with a view to his own aggrandizement at the 
cost of his rival Ras Ali, sent a mission to Cairo to obtain 
the consecration of a new Abuna. The expenses of such 
a mission are necessarily great, inasmuch as, besides the 
customary presents to the Coptic Patriarch, the consent 
of the Turkish Government, through the Pasha of Egypt, 
has likewise to be obtained by purchase; which (it may 
be remarked) is adduced as a proof that the Abyssinians 
themselves are vassals of the Porte. 

The interpreter to this mission was Padre de' Jacobis, 
Avho hoped, tlu'ough the influence of the representatives of 
the Roman Catholic powers in Egypt, to obtain the ap- 
pointment of a candidate favourable to their Church. But, 
as is related by Mr. Isenberg, one of Dr. Gobat^s succes- 
sors in the Protestant mission in Abyssinia, " with a \dew 
to strengthen the friendly connexion between the Coptic 
(as also the Abyssinian) and the English Churches, the 
Patriarch's choice fell upon a young man Avho promised 
well for that purpose, on account of his having passed 
several years in the school of the English Church Mission- 
ary Society at Cairo. His name was Andraos, and he 
received at his consecration the name of Abba Salama, in 
remembrance of Frumentius, the apostle of the Abyssi- 
nians, w^ho had borne the same name in the Church" *. 

Defeated in Egypt, Padre de' Jacobis, accompanied by 
several Abyssinians, proceeded to Rome, wlicre he esta- 
blished certain relations, which will be more particularly 
alluded to in the sequel f. 

For a long time Ablja Salama was an uncompromising 

• Abcsshdcn mid die evangelische Kirche (Bonn, 1844), vol. ii. p. 145, 
t See page 41. 


supporter of the Protestant party in Abyssinia, in opposi- 
tion to that of the Church of Rome ; and he is understood 
to have been for several years a pensioner of that party, 
through Consul Plowden during his lifetime, and after his 
death, for a short time longer, through M. Barroni, Mr. 
Plowden's agent at Massowah. Seeing the venal character 
of the prelate, this was doubtless the most effectual way to 
secure his partisanship ; and there is no reason for believ- 
ing that his exertions were not at all times proportioned to 
the benefit he derived from them. 

It is not easy to gain so clear an insight into the various 
intrigues in Abyssinia of the agents of the Church of Rome 
and of the Government of France, which appear to have 
been systematically and silently cai'ried on from the com- 
mencement of the present century. In my pamphlet, 
'The French and English in the Red Sea,"" published in 
1862, 1 have endeavoured to give a summary of the actions 
of both establishments, which for all practical purposes 
may, in their objects and interests, be regarded as similar 
if not absolutely identical ; like as in a general way are 
those of England and Protestantism. 

But there is one instance of this common action which 
cannot be passed over without special notice. In the year 
1839, M. Antoine d^Abbadie, a well-known traveller in 
Abyssinia, was the bearer of two letters from Hatsye 
Sahela Dengel, the nominal Emperor at Gondar, the one 
to the English and the other to the French Government. 
These letters, in the character of an Englishman in England 
and of a Frenchman in France, he delivered to Viscount 
Palmerston and Marshal Soult, from both of whom he re- 
ceived '' appropriate answers,'^ with which he returned to 



Abyssinia in the beginning of 1840. The letter from 
Marshal Soult duly reached its destination : that from 
Lord Palmcrston was retained by M. d^Abbadie in his 
possession for a considerable time, and was eventually 
delivered over to Captain Haines, the British political 
agent at Aden. The subsequent fate of this letter from 
Lord Palraerston to the Emperor of Abyssinia is not ma- 
terial to the present narrative ; but I may be permitted to 
mention, on account of my personal connexion with it, that 
after it had passed three times before my eyes, at Suez, at 
Aden, and at Ankober, it was, on its fourth appearance, at 
Ycjubbi, in South-western Abyssinia, on February 10th, 
1843, committed to the flames by the messenger by whom 
it liad liecn brought to me from Major Harris, but from 
whom I refused to receive it. The circumstances con- 
nected Avith this letter of Lord Palmerston^s are, however, 
so singular and instructive, that I have thought it well to 
print, in the Appendix to the present Avork, a letter which 
I addressed on the subject to Earl Russell, on July 22nd, 

Subsequently to this correspondence bctAveen the Em- 
peror Silhela Dengel and Viscount Palmcrston, which, as 
is evident, led to no practical result, the next attempt to- 
wards a renewal of political relations between Abyssinia 
and England (as we are informed by Earl Russell^) was 
made by lias Ubye, who, in the year 1841, sent Mr. 
Coffin t with a letter and presents to Her Majesty. On 

* Despatch to Col. Stanton of October 5, 18G5, in Parliamentary 
Paper, 18()0, ' Further Correspondence respecting: the British Cap- 
tives in Ahj'ssinia/ p. 61, 

t Lord Piupsell describes Mr. Cofiin as " an Enrrlisli traveller,' 
which is CAidentlv a misnomer. 


Mr. Coffin's arrival in Egypt lie was informed through 
Colonel Barnctt, the British Consul-General there, that he 
need not proceed further on his journey to England, but 
that he might deliver to Colonel Barnett any letter with 
which he was charged. Mr. Coffin accordingly delivered 
the letter from Ras Ubye, together with presents, to 
Colonel Barnett, who sent the letter to England ; but it is 
not known whether the presents were also sent, the only 
allusion to them being found in a despatch from Colonel 
Barnett, dated September 1841, in which he says they 
were still with Mr. Coffin at Cairo. No reply, how- 
ever, was returned to this letter ; in consequence of which 
Ras Ubye was so angry that he threatened violence to 
Mr. Coffin for not bringing him a return present from the 

According to Mr. Isenberg *, the only practical result of 
Mr. Coffin's mission was the obtaining for the newly-con- 
secrated Abulia, Abba Salama, a passage from Suez to 
Massowah in the British vessel ' Colombo.' 

Nothing further has to be noticed till 1847, when a 
British Consulate was established in Abyssinia. The idea 
of establishing such a Consulate did not originate in any 
pohtical object, but in consequence of a suggestion made 
by me in 1846 as to the obtaining of agricultural labourers 
from Abyssinia " f ; and I was given to understand that 
Viscount Palmerston had it in contemplation to appoint 
me to the post. But Mr. Walter Plowden happened to 
return to England from Abyssinia, where he had been re- 

* O/?. cit. vol. ii. p. 60. 

t See Parliamentary Papers relative to Distress in Sugar-growing 
Colonies : H. L., 1848, No. 250, pp. 810 to 948, passim. 


sident nearly five years with Mr. John G. Bell, previously 
an officer in the Indian navy, bringing presents from Ras 
Ali and proposals for an alliance, and he received the ap- 
pointment. At that period Baalgada Araia, a grandson of 
Aito Debbib, mentioned by Mr. Salt as Ras Walda Selasye^s 
favourite brother, and also nephew to Mr. Salt's friend 
Sabagadis, had been for some time in arms against Ubye. 
The traditional sympathies of the two Englishmen might 
have induced them to take part with the Baalgada {" Go- 
vernor of the Salt Plain ") against Ubye ; but, as his was 
manifestly the losing side, they had passed on into Amhara 
and attached themselves to Bas Ali, Ubye's great rival. 
When Mr. Plowden came to England in 1847, he left his 
comrade Bell holding the rank of general in the Ras's 
army ; and when he returned in 1848 as Consul, he was 
the bearer of presents fi'om the British Government to 
their fi'iend Ras Ali. 

Though Consul Plowden may not himself have entered 
the service of the Ras as his companion Bell had done, he 
organized a body of musketeers, the firelocks for whom he 
procured from Aden; and, as in former times the com- 
mander of the matchlock-men in the Emperor's service had 
the title of Basha"^, Mr. Plowden was at first generally 
known as Basha Buladen, as his name was pronounced by 
the natives, which name, by dropping the nunnation, soon 
became Basha Bulad. This appellation, of which the 

• " The Basha, an ofTicer introduced by Melee Se<2rued, in imitation 
of the Turks. . . . The function of the person so called was to command 
the Mahometan musqueteers, then introduced into the household 
troops. He .... is usually a gentleman of approved valour, who heads 
a division of the infantry." — Bruce's ' Travels,' .3rd edit. vol. iii. p. 25 ; 
note liv Dr. Murniv. 


literal meaning (curiously enough) is " General Gunlock/^ 
became in the result the usual designation of the English 
Consul, it being applied to Mr. Plowden^s successor as well 
as to himself"^. 

In November 1849, Consul Plowden and Ras Ali, as re- 
presenting the titular Emperor, concluded a treaty of 
friendship and commerce f, one of the articles of which 
stipulated that the two Sovereigns should respectively re- 
ceive and protect any ambassador, envoy, or consul whom 
the other should appoint; and by the 17th article His 
Majesty of Abyssinia agreed " that in all cases when a 
British subject should be accused of any crime com- 
mitted in any part of His Majesty^s dominions, the 
accused should be tried and adjudged by the British 
Consul, or other officer duly appointed for that purpose by 
Her Britannic Majesty; ^^ and, further, that the British 
Consul should have jurisdiction in disputes in which 
British subjects were concerned, in like manner as gene- 
rally in the Levant. 

It was farther stipulated that the Sovereigns of England 
and Abyssinia should " respectively, to the best of their 
power, endeavour to keep open and to secure the avenues 
of approach betwixt the sea-coast and Abyssinia ;^^ which, 
as Ubye, the virtually independent ruler of Tigre, possessed 

* ISIr. Stern says, in page 97 ol his ' Wanderings among the 
Falashas,' "The report that a successor to the assassinated Consul 
Plowden had arrived created quite a stir." The people " repaired in 
a mass to the road to welcome in a becoming style the new hache 
boulady Mr. Stern does not appear to have had the least conception 
of the meaning of this strtinge name for an English Consul. 

t Treaty, November 2nd, 1849 ; Bntish ratification delivered to the 
Ixas of Abyssinia March 1st, 1852 ; laid before Parliament June 1852. 


and commanded those " avenues of approach " and was at 
enmity witli AH, Avhilst Massowah and the entire sea- 
board belonged to the Turks, might be construed into a 
treaty offensive and defensive against both Ubye and the 
Ottoman Porte. 

The impolicy of this line of conduct on the part of the 
British Government and their representative was distinctly 
pointed out by me to Viscount Palmerston in a letter 
addressed to him as Foreign Secretary on April 4th, 1848, 
shortly after Consul Plowden's departure for his post. 
This letter is printed in the Appendix to the present work. 
On its contents I will now only remark, that had the ex- 
ample of Mr. Salt been followed, as I so strongly recom- 
mended, the present calamitous state of affairs in Abyssinia 
could not have arisen. 

Mr. Plowden himself appears to have discovered, when 
it was unfortunately too late, that little benefit was likely 
to accrue either to England or to Abyssinia from this 
Treaty between the two nations; and he candidly con- 
fessed in his letter to Eai'l Granville of June 20th, 1852, 
written shortly after Her Majesty^s ratification of that 
Treaty had been delivered to Ras Ali, as the representative 
of the Emperor, that no efforts of his could annihilate the 
3000 miles that interpose between the tAvo countries, or 
" the more fatal barrier of the Turkish domination along 
the line of coast^^^. And in his ' Remarks on the Social 
System of Abyssinia, in some points bearing upon the 
Treaty lately concluded,' Mr. Plowden states that " Dedjatj 
Ubye of Semyen, by having added by conquest the whole 
of Tigre and other provinces, had become in ])oint of war- 

• i*;irlia)iii'iil;trv I'itprr. 1866, ' Further Correspoiulenct'/iSic, p. 1. 


like equipments fully the equal of the Ras^ possessed every 
avenue leading from the interior, and acted in every respect 
as an independent sovereign'^ "^j thereby virtually admit- 
ting that the Treaty^ of which an express stipulation was 
''to endeavour to keep open and to secure the avenues 
of approach betwixt the sea-coast and Abyssinia/^ ought 
to have been concluded with Ubye rather than with his 
enemy Ali. 

What, on the other hand, the value of an alliance with 
Ubye might have been may be judged from Mr. Plow- 
den's description of that able and powerful prince, given 
at a shortly subsequent date in a ' Statement of our pre- 
sent Relations with Northern Abyssinia,' dated March 23, 
1853 : — " The present Ras, though no other chief is 
powerful enough to encounter him in the field, can only 
retain his title by the maintenance of a large army and 
constant wars against his rebellious vassals. Of all the 
inferior chiefs, whose title is Dcdjazmatjfj the greatest is 
Dedjatj Ubye, who, partly by the concurrence of the Ras, 
and more by subtlety, fortune, and the force of arms, 

* Ihid. p. 2. 

t This title is so variously spelled that it is deserving of a few 
words of explanation. It is compounded of two words, Dt'dj, a " gate " 
or "door," wx^Azmatj, a "leader " {dux) or "general;" and it means 
the conmiander of that portion of the army which protects the door of 
the Emperor : consequently the commander of the centre or main 
body; Kan-AzinatJ And Gef'-Azmafjhehv^ respectively the commanders 
of the right and left wings of the army. These desig-uations have 
however now become territoi'ial distinctions and almost mere titles of 
honour ; DedJ-aztnafJ, as governor of a province, may be regarded as 
equivalent to our Duke. The language of Tigre not possessing the 
sounds dj, tj, the word becomes Derjasmati, by some Europeans wiitten 
Kasmati or Gusmati. Before a proper name it is contracted to 
Dedjatj or De(/us. 


THE imiTJsn captives in abyssinia. 

governs with absolute sway tlic country from near the 
coast of the Red Sea to Gondar, and from Lasta to 
Sennaar ; the only conditions that should prevent him 
from being regarded as an independent sovereign being 
his title of Dcdjazmatj held from the lias and the pay- 
ment of a tribute of money to him yearly as his feudal 
superior : otherwise the E-as does not interfere with his 
rule over these vast provinces, by which he commands 
every avenue to the interior of the country available for 
trade or policy"*. 

In reply to Consul Plowden's communications of June 
20, 1852, and March 23, 1853, the Earl of Clarendon, 
who was then Foreign Secretary, replied on October 3, 
1853: — '^ Her Majesty^s Government were led by the re- 
presentations formerly made by you to expect that ad- 
vantage Mould result to British interests from the con- 
clusion of a treaty with the rulers of Abyssinia, and 
from the establishment of a British Consulate in that 
country. It appears, how^ever, from your reports now 
before me, that there is little reason to expect that such 
will be the case. 

^' Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government having con- 
cluded the treaty and established the Consulate, are re- 
luctant to renounce all hope of benefit from those mea- 
sui'cs; but their means of obtaining in this country in- 
formation on which to act are necessarily very limited; 
and I must have recourse to you for a report as to the 
possibility of your establishing yourself either at Massowah 
or any otlicjr place on the sea-coast where you may retain 
an influence on the rulers of Abyssinia, and facilitate 
* * Further CoiTespondence,' p. 4. 


communication with the provinces under their govern- 

From the papers laid before Parliament, it does not 
appear what steps were taken by Mr. Plowden in pur- 
suance of Lord Clarendon^s instructions. But one result 
of these instructions was a long and valuable report, 
giving, as it states, ' a Sketch of the Laws, Customs, Go- 
vernment, and Position of Abyssinia, with a short account 
of its Neighbours 't; the contents of which report are so 
exceedingly interesting and instructive, that it is deeply 
to be regretted that such precious matter should have been 
allowed to remain for more than twelve years hidden 
and seemingly forgotten in the archives of the Foreign 

In his report, Mr. Plowden describes at considerable 
length the tribes surrounding Abyssinia on all sides. 
E-eferring to that report for fui'ther details, it will be suf- 
ficient for my present purpose to state here that along 
the edge of the Abyssinian plateau, towards the north and 
north-west, are several tribes, the sovereignty over whom 
has long been debatable between Abyssinia and Egypt. 
Some of them, who profess Christianity, have for many 
years been under the protection of England ; and the 
British Consul-General in Egypt has more than once been 
under the necessity of remonstrating with the Egyptian 
Government on account of aggressions or other ill-treat- 

In speaking of these frontier tribes, Mr. Plowden 
says, " The divisions of Bogos, Senhait, Bidjuk, and all the 
others near Hamasyen, still hold out after having been 
* 'P'urtlier Corretspoudeuce/ p. 5. t Ibid. pp. G-41 


twice plundered : the details of the last cxpeditioii have 
been furnished in my despatches/^ 

Though the despatches fui'nishing these details have 
not been laid before Parliament, we have the means of ob- 
taining elsewhere the particulars of the expedition alluded 
to by Consid Plowden, on the testimony of an eye-witness, 
namely, j\Ir. James Hamilton, in his work ' Sinai, the 
Hedjaz, and Soudan,' published in 1857. 

After describing how the Egyptian Government had 
step by step acquired possession of the Arab districts 
surrounding Abyssinia on the north, and particularly the 
province of Taka, of which the capital, Kassalah, has be- 
come the residence of the Egyjjtian governor, Mr. Hamil- 
ton relates how the soldiers of the garrison are " employed 
by the Government, in conjunction with the border Arabs, 
in the iniquitous raids into Abyssinia, which furnish a 
considerable part of the revenues of the province. This 
year (1854), in the latter part of January, they made a 
successful incursion into the territory of the Bogos, carrying 
away three hundred and forty individuals, men, women, 
and children, all Christians, and eighteen hundred beeves. 
Of these one half fell to the share of the Arabs, the other 
half Avas carried to the account of the Government, which 
sold a part by auction, and distributed the others, on ac- 
count of their arrears of pay, to the officers and other 
employes. This is the usual way in which the produce of 
these man-stealing, frecbooting expeditions is tm'ned to 
account; the slaves and the cattle are ranged in cate- 
gories, according to their estimated values, and then dis- 
tributed instead of pay to the employes, and even to the 


'' An Italian missionary, named Giovanni Stella "^^ from 
whose congregation sixteen of these poor wretches had 
been carried off, followed them here (to Kassalah) in hopes 
of rescuing them. The Governor only laughed at his de- 
mand when he claimed the liberation of the three hundred 
and forty frecborn Abyssinians who had been carried into 
slavery; and when he afterwards limited himself to re- 
quiring those who belonged to his own flock, offering even 
to pay the price at which they were valued, it was equally 

in vain I can find no words to express the feeliugs of 

indignation which the recital of these atrocities filled me 
with. Had its victims been Pagans, the crime was atro- 
cious ; but they were Christians, and therefore more en- 
titled to secure our sympathies. 

" After our departure from Kassalah, the English Consul 
at Massowah came here to investigate the matter ; and 
though his representations to the Governor were met with 
insult as well as refusal, I have still some faint hope that 
justice may be obtained. But this country is too remote 
from European eyes to make one sanguine that any real 
satisfaction will be given, however fair the promises with 
which the Pasha may seek to gain time or delude the 
European authorities in Cairo. The Egyptian Govern- 
ment has long had designs upon Abyssinia Not- 

wishstanding the stipulations made three years ago by the 
European Powers, to prevent aggression on the Abys- 

* Padre Stella is still stationed in Bogos. He went to France last 
year, it is said, on account of the continued aggressions of Egypt. He 
returned to Abyssinia in tlie beginning of the present year, in the 
suite of the newly consecrated French Roman Catholic Bishop, Msgr. 
Bel (the first of his nation in Abyssinia), who at once proceeded with 
him to visit the mission at Keren, in Bogos. 


siniau frontiers, there is every reason to believe tliat tlie 
Pasha, whose obstinacy of purpose is only equalled by the 
cunning with which he has circumvented more than one 
Frank diplomatist, has by no means changed his view^s "^. 

In a note in a subsequent page, written at Cairo on 
August 5th, 1854, Mr. Hamilton says, " A few days 
after we left Kassalah, H.M. Consul at Massowah arrived 
to inquire into and report upon the recent outrages on the 
frontier. He met with even a colder reception than our- 
selves : the Mudir (governor) forbade the Arabs to carry 
letters for him, forbade the public writers to write for 
him, in fact, completely excommunicated him — a penalty 
in which our worthy host, Mr. Kotzika, was also involved. 
It Avas necessary to go a joui'ney of two days to reach a 
tribe not dependent on the Mudir, in order to forward his 
coiTcspondence. The usual system of promises and eva- 
sion was, of course, resorted to in Cairo, to excuse the 
culprit, who no doubt had only acted on Abbas Pasha^s in- 
stnictions ; and it was only after that monster's death, that 
H.M. Consul-General obtained fi'ora the present Viceroy 
(Said Pasha) satisfaction, by Chosrew Bey^s dismissal " ■\. 

That Consul Plowden's proceedings on behalf of the 
frontier tribes of Abyssinia were entirely approved by 
the British Government at home, is established by the 
following passage in Lord Clarendon^s despatch to that 
officer, dated November 27, 1855 : — " Her Majesty^s Go- 
vernment have latterly remonstrated in the strongest terms 
against the intentions of the Viceroy of Egypt to attack 
Abyssinia; and the present Viceroy (Said Pasha) has not 
only put a stop to such proceedings, and has confined 
* Op. til. pp. 240-2-A8. t Hid. p. '2:>2. 


himself within his own dominions, but he has set free the 
Abyssinian prisoners reduced to slavery by his prede- 
cessor " ■^. 

Notwithstanding the assurance thus given of the good 
intentions of the then ruling Viceroy, it is quite certain 
that the atrocious aggressions on the Abyssinian frontier 
districts, so vividly depicted by Mr. Hamilton, were in 
no wise intermitted. When Said Pasha himself was in 
England in 1862, he told the President ot the Royal 
Geographical Society, Sir Roderick I. Murchison, that 
the frontiers of his dominions towards the south were 
very elastic ; and there is evidence of their having been 
steadily pushed forward in the direction of Abyssinia, as 
in every other. It may be quite true that, on the part 
of the Abyssinians themselves, there has been no lack of 
hostile feeling, and that they likewise have lost no oppor- 
tunity of harassing the Egyptians and the tribes submitted 
to them. Such is always the case in border warfare, and 
it would probably be often difficult to decide which of the 
two parties was the aggressor. 

However this may be, an inevitable result of these con- 
stant feuds between the Mohammedans and Christians 
along the frontiers has been the capture, both in war and 
by stealth, of numerous Christian Abyssinians, who are 
sold into slavery. When I was last at Massowah, I heard 
that the Slave Trade was still carried on there and at Ar- 
kiko to some extent. How it is in the interior may be 
gathered from the preceding pages, and also from Consul 
Cameron^s report to Consul General Colquhoun of May 
20th, 1863t. 

* ' Further Correspondence,' p. 47, t If'id p. 00. 




Whilst Consul Plowdcn was thus occupied on the 
northern frontiers of Abyssinia, an important change oc- 
cuiTcd in the government aud political condition of that 
country, which cannot be better described than in the 
words of that officer in his report on the subject, con- 
tained in his despatch to the Earl of Clarendon, dated 
Gondar, June 25th, 1855. 

" In my last report I represented Northern Abyssinia, 
independently of Shoa, as being ruled by three chiefs, who 
were generally at variance with each other, and whose feudal 
vassals were most often in a state of secret or open rebel- 
lion. A remarkable man has now appeared, who, under 
tlic title of Negus or King Theodoras^, has united the 
whole of Northern Abyssinia under his authority, and 

• I cannot see any reason for using this Latin form. The native 
name is 'Teodcros or Teddros, from the Greelv Qeodapos, with the ac- 
cent on the antepenultimate. We oujjht to use either the native name 
or the English form Theodore. I have altered the name through- 
out, and have likewise coiTected in some instances the spelling of na- 
tive names; adopting, generally, the system of Sir William Jones, 
as recommended by the lloyal Geogi-aphical Society. 


has established tolerable tranquillity, considering the short- 
ness of his career and the hazardous wars in which he has \ A *'** 
been and is still engaged. 

" From his earliest youth, Dcdjatj Kassai regarded his 
present elevation as assuredly destined, but concealed his 
designs with prudence equal to his daring until ripe for 
execution. First he denied the authority of the Queen, 
mother of Ras Ali, under whom he governed the provinces 
near Sennaar; defeated in succession all the troops she 
could send against him, and lastly herself with tenfold 
his numbers : he protested, however, that he was still the 
faithful servant of Has Ali, but refused to surrender ex- 
cept on certain conditions of peace. The Uas then sent 
against him an immense force ; the armies camped opposite 
to each other for some time, the Eas not wishing to drive 
matters to extremity; and in the interval Kassai fought 
several minor battles, detected and punished some traitors 
in his own camp, and introduced a little discipline into 
his army. 

" The Ras having sworn to do him no injury, he sur- 
rendered and came to Debra Tabor, where he so com- 
pletely lulled all suspicion that he received all his former 
honours and provinces from the Ras, the queen being in 
a measure disgraced. He returned to Kawra and attacked 
all the low countries towards Sennaar [inhabited by] Shan- 
kalas or Arabs, accustoming his soldiers to war and hard- 

" His projects not being yet matured, on several occa- 
sions when it was confidently reported that he had re- 
belled, he baffled his accusers by suddenly appearing in 
the Ras's camp, and following him to war in Godjam with 


about a third of his forces, tlius quite winning his 
heartj though I ventured to point out to the Has his dan- 
gerous character. 

'' At last, about two years and a half ago, he tkrew off 
the mask, and the lias having sent against him Dedjatj 
Goshu, that prince was defeated and slain in battle. 

" The Ras now became seriously alarmed, and ordered 
half his army under his best commanders to attack 
him ; he also called upon Dedjatj Ubye. chief of Tigre, for 
assistance, and that prince furnished a very large con- 
tingent. Though numbers Avere so overwhelming against 
him, Dedjatj Kassai met these forces and gave them a 
signal defeat, killing most of the chiefs ; shortly after he 
took the daring resolution of attacking the Ras, and ar- 
riving by forced marches near the camp of that prince in 
Godjam in the rainy season, sent him a defiance, and 
met him, though so far superior in cavalry, in the open 
plains. The Ras fought with the utmost courage in 
person; the loss of life was considerable on both sides; 
but Kassai's determined valour again won the day, Ras Ali 

" He then retired from Godjam, and afforded to Biru 
Goshu, who had been for five years besieged by the Ras 
in his mountain fort of Somma, an opportunity of leaving 
that stronghold. 

" During some months Dedjatj Kassai remained tran- 
quil, amusing Dedjatj Ubye at first with friendly propo- 
sals, afterwards demanding of that chief the Abuna, Abba 
Salama, who had been banished by Ras Ali, with me- 
naces in case of non-c(niipliauce. Ubye, becoming alarmed, 
sent first his son with proposals, and, subsequently the 




Abima; the latter was reinstated in his dignity at Gondar, 
and a peace was made between the chiefs. Dedjatj Kassai 
then pursued Biru Goshu even to the Galla provinces, 
where he had assembled a large forcC; defeated and took 
him prisoner. 

" He was now strong in guns and troops, and on his 
return camped in the province of Woggera, from whence 
he declared war against Ubye, reproaching him with his 
falsehood, which was proved, in having sent letters to 
encourage Biru Goshu. With some reluctance Ubye at 
last put himself in motion to oppose Dedjatj Kassai, who 
had advanced into Semyen ; the latter, by forced marches, 
fell suddenly upon his rival, and in two hours defeated 
him, taking prisoner all his sons and generals with him- 
self; without delay he invested Ubye^s strongholds, which 
surrendered at once. 

" The fruits of this last victory were large treasures 
accumulated for three generations, the submission or im- 
prisonment of almost all the chiefs in Abyssinia, and the 
coronation of Dedjatj Kassai by the Abuna, Abba Salama, 
under the title of Theodoros, King of Kings of Ethiopia. 

" Discovering a plot against his life, the King only 
placed in durance those concerned, displaying in all things 
great clemency and generosity, and the ransom of Dedjatj 
Ubye was fixed at 120,000 dollars. 

" With scarce a week^s delay, and in spite of the mur- 
murs of his soldiers, the King marched against the Mo- 
hammedan Gallas, who had, during his absence, burnt 
some churches, and assembled all the forces of Christian 
Abyssinia, Tigre included, in the province of Dalanta, on 
the borders of Worrahemano, where I found him. 


'' He may have from 50,000 to G0/)00 men of all arms. 

" Such has been his adventurous and warlike career. 
I shall now say a few words on his personal character, 
the reforms he has eflFected, the designs he is contem- 
plating, and the condition and prospects of the country. 

'^ The King Theodores is young in years, vigorous in all 
manly exercises, of a striking countenance, peculiarly po- 
lite and engaging when pleased, and mostly displaying 
great tact and delicacy. He is persuaded that he is des- 
tined to restore the glories of the Ethiopian empire, and 
to achieve great conquests : of untiring energy, both men- 
tal and bodily, his personal and moral daring are bound- 
less. The latter is well proved by his severity towards 
his soldiers, even when these, pressed by hunger, are 
mutinous, and he is in front of a powerful foe ; more so 
even by his pressing reforms in a country so little used to 
any yoke, whilst engaged in unceasing hostilities, and his 
suppression of the power of the great feudal chiefs, at a 
moment when any inferior man would have sought to 
conciliate them as the stepping-stones to empire. 

" When aroused his wrath is terrible, and all tremble ; 
hut at all moments he possesses a perfect self-command. 
Indefatigable in hiisiucss, he takes little repose night or 
day : his ideas and language are clear and precise ; hesi- 
tation is not knoA^ai to him; and he has neither coun- 
cillors nor go-betweens. He is fond of splendour, and 
receives in state even on a campaign. He is unsparing in 
punishment — very necessary to restrain disorder, and to 
restore order in such a wilderness as Abyssinia. He 
salutes his meanest subject with courtesy ; is sincerely 
though often mistakenly religious, and will acknowledge a 


fault committed toward his poorest follower in a moment 
of passion with sincerity and grace. 

" He is generous to excess, and free from all cupidity, 
regarding nothing with pleasure or desire but munitions 
of war for his soldiers. He has hitherto exercised the 
utmost clemency toward the vanquished, treating them 
rather as his friends than his enemies. His faith is signal : 
without Christ, he says, I am nothing ; if he has destined 
me to purify and reform this distracted kingdom, with 
His aid who shall stay me : nay, sometimes he is on the 
point of not caring for human assistance at all, and this is 
one reason why he will not seek with much avidity for 
assistance from or alliance with Europe. 

" The worst points in his character are, his violent 
anger at times, his unyielding pride as regards his kingly 
and divine right, and his fanatical religious zeal. 

" He has begun to reform even the dress of Abyssinia, 
all about his person wearing loose flowing trowsers and 
upper and under vests, instead of the half-naked costume 
introduced by the Gallas. Married himself at the altar 
and strictly continent, he has ordered or persuaded all 
who love him to follow his example, and exacts the greatest 
decency of manners and conversation : this system he 
hopes to extend to all classes. 

" He has suppressed the Slave Trade in all its phases, 
save that the slaves already bought may be sold to such 
Christians as shall buy them for charity : setting the ex- 
ample, he pays to the Mussulman dealers what price they 
please to ask for the slaves they bring to him, and then 
baptizes them. 

" He has abolished the barbarous practice of delivering 



over murderers to the relatives of the deceased, handing 
over offenders, in public, to his own executioners to be 
shot or decapitated. 

" The arduous task of breaking the power of the great 
feudal Chiefs — a task achieved in Europe only during the 
reigns of many consecutive Kings — he has commenced l)y 
chaining almost all who were dangerous, avowing his in- 
tention of liberating them when his power shall be con- 
solidated. He has placed the soldiers of the different pro- 
vinces under the command of his own trusty followers, to 
Avhom he has given high titles, but no power to judge or 
\j' punish ; thus, in fact, creating generals in place of feudal 
Chieftains more proud of their birth than of their monarch, 
and organizing a new nobility, a legion of honour depen- 
dent on himself, and chosen specially for their daring and 

" To these he gives sums of money from time to time, 
accustoming them to his intention of establishing a regular 
pay ; his matchlock-men are numbered under officers com- 
manding from 100 to 1000, and the King drills them in 
person. In the common soldiers he has effected a great 
reform, by paying them, and ordering them to purchase 
their food, but in no way to harass and plunder the pea- 
sant as Ijcforc ; the peasantry he is gradually accustoming 
to live quiet under the village judge, and to look no more 
to military rule. As regards commerce, he has put an 
end to a number of vexatious exactions, and has ordered 
that duties shall l)e levied only at three places in his do- 
minions. All tliese matters cannot yet be perfected, but 
he intends also to disarm the people, and to establish a 
regular standing army, armed with muskets only ; having 


declared that he will convert swords and lances into 
ploughshares and reaping-hooks^ and cause a plough-ox to 
he sold dearer than the noblest war-horse. 

" He has begun to substitute letters for verbal messages. ' 
After perusing the history of the Jesuits in Abyssinia, he 
has decided that no Roman Catholic priests shall teach in 
his dominions ; and insisting on his right divine over those 
born his subjects, has ordered the Abyssinians who have 
adopted that creed to recant. To foreigners of all classes, 
however, he permits the free exercise of their religion, but 
prohibits all preaching contrary to the doctrine of the 
Coptic Chm'ch. To the Mohammedans he has declared 
that he will first conquer the Gallas, who have seized on 
Clu'istian lands, devastated churches, and by force con- 
verted the inhabitants to Islamism; and after that, the 
Mussulmans now residing in Abyssinia will have the 
option of being baptized or of leaving the country. 

" He is peculiarly jealous, as may be expected, of his 
sovereign rights, and of anything that appears to trench 
on them : he wishes, in a short time, to send embassies to 
the great European Powers to treat with them on equal 
terms. The most difficult trait in his character is this 
jealousy and the pride that, fed by ignorance, renders it 
impossible for him yet to believe that so great a monarch 
as himself exists in the world. 

" In his present campaign he proposes to subdue or 
exterminate the Mohammedan Gallas, and perhaps Shoa. 
Next year he will devote to the settlement of Tigre, in- 
cluding the tribes along the coast, and meditates the oc- 
cupation of Massowah. After that he wishes to reclaim 
all the provinces lately conquered by Egypt along his 


northern frontier, and even Khartoum, as his by right : nor 
does his military ardom* hesitate to ckeam of the conquest 
of Egypt and a trimnphant march to the Holy Sepulchre. 

"■ Some of his ideas may be imperfect, others imprac- 
ticable ; but a man, who, rising from the clouds of Abys- 
sinian ignorance and childishness without assistance and 
loithout advice"^, has done so much and contemplates such 
large designs, cannot be regarded as of an ordinary 
stamp /^ 

The character thus attributed to the Emperor Theodore 
by Consul Plowden was evidently written with a most 
friendly pen. Several circumstances connected with his 
rise to power have been omitted, especially those re- 
lating to his final acquisition of the Imperial crown. I 
give them here as having an important bearing on his 
subsequent career. 

After the defeat of Ras Ali, as is related by Mr. Plowden, 
Kassai and Ubyc, who were then left alone, were found to 
be [jretty evenly matched. To avoid further bloodshed, it 
was agreed, in February 1854, that a council of the prin- 
cipal chiefs and dignitaries of the empire should decide 
between the two rivals, who each hound himself by an 
oath to submit to tlicu' decision. It being soon apparent 
that the council were inclined to place Ubye on the throne, 
and that the Abuna, Abba Salama, was willing to crown 
him, Kassai intrigued with Padre de^ Jacobis (who with 
the spread of Romanism in Abyssinia had been recognized 
as Romish hishop under the title of Abuna Yakob) for the 
adoption of the faith of Rome by himself and the whole 
empire, if Jacolns would crown him Emperor. Having 
* Froui what is stated in pajre 4i>, this may bo questioned. 


gained this point, Kassai suddenly led his army into Ubyc^s 
hereditary jjrovince of Semyen. The Coptic bishop having 
declared the perjured Kassai and his soldiers out of the 
pale of the Church, Kassai intimated to him that, if he 
could excommunicate, Abuna Yakol) could absolve ; at the 
same time leaving the door open for negotiation. The 
Coptic abuna, entrapped as easily as the Homish bishop 
had been, at once abandoned Ubye^s cause, and agreed to 
crown Kassai Emperor, on condition that he recognized 
the Coptic faith as that of the empire, and banished from 
the country Bishop de' Jacobis and his Romish priests. 

Ubye, deprived of most of his moral power by the defec- 
tion of the Coptic bishop, now marched in pursuit of Kassai. 
On the 10th February, 1855 ^, a pitched battle took place 
at Deraskye between their two armies, when that of Ubye 
was completely routed, and he himself was wounded and 
taken prisoner. Two days afterwards, Kassai was anointed 
and crowned by the Coptic bishop by the name and title of 
Theodore, King of the Kings {i. e. Emperor) of Ethiopia. 
This ceremony took place in the church of Deraskye, which 
Ubye had had built with a view to his own coronation. 

Immediately after he had been crowned, Theodore 
marched upon Gondar, where he ordered the imperial 
7iegarit or large kettle-drums to be brought out and beaten 
in the market-place ; and it was proclaimed, in the name 
of the King of Kings Theodore, that if any one should 
ever again speak of Dedjatj Kassai, he would have his 
hands and feet cut off. 

In order to show more fully the character of Kassai, and 
to afford a key to his general conduct, it must be explained 
* Mr. Stern gives this as the 4th, M. Lejean as the 5th of February. 



that the name of Theodore, assumed by him at his corona- 
tion, is tliat of an Emperor of Abyssinia who flourished 
during the eleventh century of the Christian era, and Avho, 
according to a native prophecy, is, like King Arthur of 
Britain and Don Sebastian of Portugal, to reign again, and 
under whom the empire is not only to recover its pristine 
power and splendour, but Mohammedanism is to be extir- 
pated and the Cross planted in tlie place of the Crescent at 
Jerusalem, in which city he is to seat himself on the throne 
of his ancestor Solomon, the wise King of Israel. 

When I passed through Lasta in the year 1843, I ac- 
quired a knowledge of the tradition of that kingdom, 
which differs materially from that of the rest of Abyssinia. 
According to it, the second Theodore is no other than 
Nakwetolaab, the last reigning monarch of the native dy- 
nasty of Lasta, who abdicated in favour of Yekwena Amlak, 
the legitimate heir to the throne, and is said to be still 
alive and wandering about between Jerusalem and the 
Abyssinian province of Zobul, in expectation of the time 
Avhen his second reign shall commence, which is to be a sort 
of millennium. 

Whether the present Emperor, when he assumed the 
name of Theodore, was sincere in the belief that he was the 
destined sovereign may fairly be questioned. M. Lejean is 
inclined to regard him as sincere, and asserts that in 
1855 the whole of Abyssinia believed in him, even if at the 
present day the same faith may not be retained.* But this 
is evidently a misapprehension. In 1855 I had in my ser- 
vice, or was otherwise in communication Avitli, several Abys- 
sinians, some of whom were from Kassai's native province, 
• ' Revue des Deux Mondes ' (Nov. 1, 1864), vol. liv. p. 235. 


Kwara or its immediate vicinity; and they unqualifiedly 
denied his claim to be the Theodore of prophecy, for the 
simple but conclusive reason, that Theodore was to come 
from the east, whereas Kassai's place of origin, Kwara, 
is in the extreme noriYi-ivest of Abyssinia ; and besides, we 
are told by Consul Plowden, in his Report of June 25, 1855, 
that at that very time a son of Ubye was giving himself 
out as the destined Theodore, in opposition to Kassai. 

That Kassai should have been induced to pass himself 
off for the Theodore of prophecy may perhaps be accounted 
for by the following remarkable circumstances. 

For upwards of twenty years past there has resided in 
Rome a certain lady of English extraciion, who claims to 
be a lineal descendant of Menilek, the son of King Solo- 
mon by the Queen of Sheba, and who, in the year 1863, 
printed and published "con permesso" at Rome, a pamphlet 
setting forth her pretensions, under the title of " Istoriche 
Incidenze, per mezzo delle quali si prova esistere ancora e 
fra di noi la linea diretta di Salomone, Re d'Egitto e de' 

It is not requisite to discuss the pretensions of this 
aspirant to the tlu'one of Ethiopia, whose pedigree I pos- 
sess. It will be sufficient to state that they have been 
countenanced both at Rome and in Abyssinia ; and that 
when Padre de' Jacobis was in that city, as has been 
already mentioned, a meeting was held in the Palazzo del 
Governo Vecchio on September 9th 1841, at which were 
present this claimant to the throne and other members 
of her family, together with Padre de' Jacobis and several 
Abyssinians, one of whom was the Alaka Habta Selasye, 
and another a former secretary of Dcdjatj Sabagadis. 


This lady's husband, or one of her two sons, occupies 
himself with painting sacred pictures for the adornment of 
the churches of his future empire. When I was in Abys- 
sinia during the present year, I inquired after these paint- 
ings, but could not hear of any except two in the Roman 
Catholic church at ]\Iassowah; the one representing the 
marriage of the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, with St. 
Simeon joining their hands, and the other the death of St. 
Joseph, with the Virgin and. infant Jesus attending him. 
My very brief stay in the island in May last, on my return 
from the upper country, precluded me from seeing these 
two pictures, as I had desired to do. I am told that on 
their frames are set forth the pretensions of the artist to 
the throne of Ethiopia. 

It is not at all improbable that, under favourable cir- 
cumstances, the lloman Catholic party in Abyssinia would 
have been, and might still be, prepared to support the 
claims of this aspirant to the throne of their own faith, 
who on his side would assuredly be willing to make them 
every concession in return for their support. Whether it 
was ever intended that this lloman Catholic pretender 
should declare himself to be the Theodore of prophecy I 
cannot say ; but the intimate acquaintance of Bishop de' 
Jacobis with the ancient history of Ethiopia, his mystic 
and cntliusiastic character, and his intriguing disposition, 
might well have disposed him to originate and encourage 
such an imposture. As regards, however, the idea of Kas- 
sai's ])cing the destined sovereign — so to say, on the Coptic 
and Protestant side, — I have been assured that it was sug- 
gested to him by the Abuna — the same train of thought 
which made that prelate assume to be the representative 


of Frumentius and adopt his revered name of Abba Salama, 
leading him not mmaturally to propose that Kassai should 
in like manner adopt the name and attributes of the 
destined restorer of the empire. 

Whatever may have been the origin of Kassai's preten- 
sions, and whether at the outset he himself believed 
in his own claim or not, there can be no doubt that 
he is now fully convinced of it. So far indeed has he be- 
come filled with the idea of his divine mission, that at the 
time of the defeat and execution of his rival, Negusye, in 
the beginning of 1861, he made the following impious de- 
claration to the clergy of Axum : — " I have made a bar- 
gain with God. He has promised not to descend on earth 
to strike me ; and I have promised not to ascend into 
heaven to fight with him.^^ The madness of this assertion 
is regarded by M. Lejean"^ as representing the amount of 
disquietude caused by the intervention of France on the 
side of his rival, Negusye. Rather is it the result of the 
intoxication of success, superadded to that arising from the 
constant habits of excess, which he indulged in before he 
took on himself the character of the destined monarch of 
religion, morality, and peace, and which he is known 
to have resumed since he threw ofi" the mask and reap- 
peared in what must be regarded as his true character. 

M. Lejean, who on the whole is not unfavourably disposed 
towards Theodore, attributes his change of conduct to 
his being at length worn out by the constant rebellions 
which he is unable to queU, and which eventually have 
given rise to the one sole dark thought that now pervades 
his soul; and he puts into Theodore's mouth the following- 
* Oj7. cit. p. 2oo. 


words : — " God, wlio raised mc from the dust to supplant 
the legitimate princes, did not perform this miracle without 
a motive. I have a mission; but what is it? I thought at 
first that I had to elevate this people by means of pros- 
perity and peace ; but, in spite of all the good T have done, 
I see more rebels raise up their heads than in the time of 
the worst tyranny. It is evident that I have deceived my- 
self. This people has a hard head, and requires to be chas- 
tised before being called to enjoy the blessings of Provi- 
dence. I now perceive the true part I have to perform : 
I ^vdll be the scourge, the judgement of God on Abyssinia." 
And M. Lejean adds that, as the new programme of his 
reign, he has caused to be engraved on the carriages of his 
mortars, "Theodore, the Scourge of the Perverse^^"^. 

One of the frightful consequences of this resolution was 
the laconic general order given by the monarch to his sol- 
diers, " Eat up everything ; " under which order fourteen 
provinces, with a superficies equal to that of Switzerland, 
were " eaten up,'' the one after the other, in the three 
months from March to June 18G3 f. 

That M. Lejean has not exaggerated is proved l)y the 
following extract from a letter, which I received in 1863, 
from a j)crson who has had but too many opportunities of 
forming a correct estimate of the Emperor's real charac- 
ter : — " Abyssinia, I regret to say, has not improved since 
my last visit. The King who, in the beginning of his reign, 
gave great promise that he would introduce a new era of 
peace and ])rospcrity to this long-distracted and misgo- 
verned empire, has grievously disappointed the general ex- 
pectation. Infatuated with the idea that he was the chosen 
• Op. cit. p. GOD. t Ibid. 



instrument of Heaven to perform exploits that would elicit 
the Avorld's applause, he led the life of a saint in the camp, 
and displayed the daring of a hero in battle. As long as 
success attended his varied enterprises, all was couleur de 
rose; but no sooner did he discover treacheries among his 
governors and wide- spreading conspiracies among the 
troops, than he abandoned the false character he had as- 
sumed, and descended to the common level of all former 
Abyssinian monarchs. Since his defeat of Agau Negusye, 
the Tigre rebel, who expiated the crime of his ambition by 
a cruel death, the despot has wasted part of the Wollo- 
Galla country; and, during the last year, all his forces 
have been applied to subjugate to obedience the province 
of Godjam. Tadela Gwalu, who is the leader of the 
rebels, to forestall any reverse, has intrenched himself on 
the Ambas Djibella, Mutera and Tsamara, where, it is 
said, a sufficient quantity of provisions is stored up to 
last him and his numerous army upwards of fourteen 

"The persevering resistance of this pretender to the 
throne has exasperated Theodore to a pitch almost border- 
ing on frenzy. Damot, Agaumider, and part of Dembea, 
which were suspected of disaffection, have already expe- 
rienced the severe doom of traitors ; and it is said that a 
similar fate aAvaits other districts and provinces. The 
cruel and licentious soldiery, too delighted with the royal 
licence to plunder, have perpetrated the most revolting 
deeds of cruelty. Confiscation and rapine have been the 
lot of the patient and submissive ; but wherever any re- 
monstrance was offered, blows, and in scores of instances 
death, became the punishment. Even churches, which 


were liitlicrto considered inviolable, did not escape the de- 
vastating storm. 

" This unprecedented mode of intimidation has awakened 
horror and detestation among friends and foes ; and it will 
take years, if the despot so long maintains his power, till 
the impression of the late proceedings is effaced. Just now 
he is encamped in Maitsha, south of Lake Tsana ; but I 
question whether his vast army will not prove dangerous to 
himself in an impoverished and hostile country. The pea- 
santry are all Aveary of this unsettled state of the empire, 
and secretly sigh for a change of government." 

This was written from Southern Abyssinia in 1863. 
When I was in the northern portion of the empire in the 
beginning of the present year, I heard everything thus 
stated fully confirmed, and more than confirmed. Like 
the children of Israel, the Abyssinians — the Betii Israel, 
as they call themselves — sigh by reason of their bondage 
under a sovereign whom they do not scruple to style 
" Pharaoh, King of Egypt," and they look anxiously, yet 
hopefully, for the day when a deliverer shall arise, like 
Moses, to free them from their oppressor. 

Yet Theodore, with all his faults, is but one of a class. 
Like other " heroes," 

" From Macedonia's madman to the Swede," 
he bears down and crushes all that stands between him and 
the object of his desires; and like them he will learn, when 
it shall be too late, that " wisdom is better than weapons of 

But I have been anticipating the course of events, the 
narrative of which shall be resumed in the following 



Theodore's reception op consul plowden — he objects to a 


At the time of the defeat of Ras Ali in 1853, Mr. Bell 
was in that prince's camp, and was either taken prisoner 
by the conqueror or submitted to him. In either case he 
was pardoned, and soon stood in high favour, even more so 
than with Ras Ali. Consul Plowden was at the time at 
Massowah, but on being written to by his friend Bell, he 
proceeded to Gondar, where, in June 1855, he had an in- 
terview with the Emperor. What took place on the occa- 
sion is thus graphically described by Mr. Plowden, in a 
Report to the Earl of Clarendon, dated Gondar, June 25, 
1855 : — "On approaching the camp, the intervening country 
being dangerous to traverse on account of the Gallas, I re- 
quested an escort ; the King, to do me honour, sent four of 
his generals with several comj)anies of gunners, who accom- 
panied me to the camp with ceremony, the King^s flutes 
and drums playing before me, and fired a salute of mus- 
ketry when I approached his tent. The tent was filled with 
all his officers in handsome dresses, and the ground was 


entirely covered with carpets ; the King was seated on a 
coucli; splendidly attired, with his crown on the pillow and 
his sword of state held behind him : the Abuna and the 
Etjegye were seated on high chairs to tlie right and left — 
every one else standing. He received me with great po- 
litenesSj and caused me to sit down on a carpet near him- 
self. After a short conversation respecting my journey 
and on the forms of government in England and other 
countries, he told me to retire, as I must be fatigued, 
causing a large tent to be pitched for me 

" The evening before the day fixed for my departure, 
the King sent to me to know the object of my coming. I 
replied that I had not come on the part of the Government 
or in any official capacity; but that as I was about to 
visit England, it yvas important that I should know and 
report His Majesty ^s disposition respecting the establish- 
ment of a Consulate and friendly relations generally; I 
hinted, also at what had been arranged with the Ras, Ali. 
The King said, ' I know nothing of what Ras Ali may have 
done ; I am young and inexperienced in public affairs ; I 
have never heard of a Consulate under the former Kings of 
Abyssinia, and tliis matter must ])e referred to my Council 
and the principal people of my court. ^ 

" The next day, being sick myself, I sent Mr. Bell, who 
is much trusted by the King; and after several messages 
to and fro the King finally replied as follows : — ' I cannot 
consent to a Consulate, as I find in the liistory of 
our institutions no such thing; but for anything else 
that you wish for, now or hereafter, for yourself and 
other English, I shall be happy to ])erform your pleasure ; 
and could 1 receive anv Consul, I should wish for no 


one more agreeable to me, or more esteemed by me, 
than yourself/ 

" I had ventured to hint that the sea-coast and Masso- 
wah might possibly be given up to him on his consent ; 
but, though his ambition was roused at this, he feared the 
clause conferring jurisdiction on the Consul as trenching on 
his prerogative; and the time for consideration was so short 
that, though half inclined to say yes, he was too much 
startled at my proposals to do so. 

" The next morning he offered me some hundred dollars 
for the expenses of my journey, and begged me to pass 
the rainy season in Gondar. I replied that, had he received 
me as Consul, I should even have followed him in his cam- 
paigns and have shared his dangers ; but that after his re- 
fusal my duty was to return to my country as soon as 
possible ; and that as for the money I could not receive it, 
as I was paid by my own Sovereign. He spoke to me in 
the most affectionate manner, gave orders for my honom'- 
able reception everywhere as far as Massowah, and said, 
' In refusing your request for a Consulate, my only reason 
is that it appears an innovation, but do you not forget my 
friendship for you, and cause your Queen also to regard me 
as a friend. After the rains I shall send to Her Majesty 
an Embassy and letters, and when these wars are finished 
I will give every favour and protection to Englishmen 
who may visit my country : do you also visit me and 
write to me.' 

"The Abuna, Abba Salama, tried in every way to 
assist me in this negotiation ; and it will be seen that the 
King's refusal is hardly a refusal, and that he does not 
wish to break off all treaty ivith us, but 7'ather the con- 


trary, being only startled by the clause about jurisdiction 
of Consuls. 

" I left the camp with all honour^ the King adjuring me 
twenty times not to forget to write to him constantly 
wherever I might be, and giving me his own mule to ride 
as a proof of his friendly feelings. I told him that I 
should report all our conversation, and receive the orders 
of my Government in consequence ; that I should then 
report the answer to him, which was all that I was au- 
thorized to do'^^. 

Lord Clarendon's reply, dated November 27th, 1855, 
to Consul Plowden's despatch, was couched in the fol- 
lowing terms : — 

" I have read with great interest the able report on the 
present state of the Kingdom of Abyssinia, inclosed in 
your despatch dated Gondar, June 25th, 1855, and / en- 
tirely approve your pf-oceedings as reported in that de- 
spatch, as well as the language held by you at your inter- 
view with the King Theodorus. 

"You will acquaint the King that Her Majesty's Go- 
vernment are fully informed with respect to the events 
that have recently taken place in Abyssinia, and that they 
desire to express their admiration of the valour and skiU 
wliich he has displayed in the field and of his moderation 
in victory, and also of the wisdom and benevolence with 
which he has commenced the work of reform, and of his 
labours for the welfare of his people. At the same time, 
however, you will convey the advice and express the earnest 
hope of Her Majesty's Government, that the King will 

* Parliamentary Paper, 18GG, 'Further Con-espondence,' kc. pp. 
44, 4o. 


abstain from religious persecution and extending religious 
principles by force of arms, which is contrary to the prin- 
ciples of Christianity, and cannot fail to involve him in 
endless troubles. 

" Her Majesty^s Government are convinced that the 
establishment of friendly and intimate relations between 
Great Britain and Abyssinia would be attended with many 
advantages to both countries ; and you wdll accordingly 
inform the King that the Queen, our gracious Sovereign, 
will have much pleasure in receiving, and treating with 
due honour, the Ambassadors whom His Majesty may 
send to Her Court. 

" This must, however, depend upon your receiving from 
the King a distinct assurance that he renounces all idea of 
conquest in Egypt and at Massowah. 

" Her Majesty's Government have latterly remonstrated 
in the strongest terms against the intentions of the Viceroy 
of Egypt to attack Abyssinia ; and the present Viceroy has 
not only put a stop to such proceedings and has confined 
himself within the limits of his own dominions, but he has 
set free the Abyssinian prisoners reduced to slavery by his 
predecessor. Her Majesty's Government would subject 
themselves to grave suspicions if they received an Em- 
bassy from a sovereign whose designs against the Sultan, 
the ally of .the Queen of England, were previously known 
to them. 

" Should you receive a complete and satisfactory assu- 
rance on this subject, and should the King of Abyssinia 
determine to send Ambassadors to Her Majesty^s Court, 
it ivill be your duty to accompany them, and you are hereby 
authorized to defray the expenses of their Journey to Eng- 

E 2 


land, respecting wliicli you will he careful to observe all 
reasonable economy. 

" I apprehend, however, that the route which the Ambas- 
sadors would pursue must be through Egypt ; and as the 
Viceroy is aware of the hostile designs of the King, it is 
highly probable that His Highness will not allow them to 
pass through his territory ; and you will therefore coinmu- 
nicate with Mr. Bruce, and ascertain from him whether 
leave will be granted or not, as it would be highly inexpe- 
dient that you should be exposed to being turned back 
from the Egyptian frontier in company with the Abyssinian 
emissaries" *. 

At what time this despatch of Lord Clarendon reached 
Consul Plowden, and what negotiations took place between 
that officer and the Emperor in consequence of it, do not 
appear. Earl Russell, in his despatch to Colonel Stanton of 
October 5th, 1865 1^ says that the Emperor Theodore, " so 
far from insisting on the observance of the Treaty of 1849, 
refused altogether to recognize that Treaty. Consul Plow- 
den was told by the British Government in 1857 that 
the Emperor was bound in good faith to recognize that 
Treaty, and that if he objected to any of its provisions 
he should propose modifications. But from the triumph 
of the Emperor Theodore in 1856 [it should be 1855] to 
the present day, the Treaty has been a dead letter.^' 

From these expressions of Earl Russell the legitimate 
inference would ])e that between the accession of the 
Emperor Theodore and Consul Plowden^s untimely death, 
that monarch had turned a deaf car to the representations 

* Pari. Paper, 18(i6, ' Furthoi- Correspondence,' &c., p. 47. 
t Ihir]. p. ()2. 

i '■■{'■ 


made by the latter at the instance of the British Govern- 
ment ; whereaSj as far as is shown by the documents hither- 
to published^ it appears that the Emperor did precisely as 
it is insinuated he ought to have done but did not. 

It is necessary to explain, that the treaty entered into 
with the Emperor and Ras Ali, in 1849, was based on, or 
more properly speaking copied from, that made with the f'^ 
King of Slioa in 1841, but with some material modifica- '{ -^^ui' 
tions. The treaty with Shoa consists of sixteen articles, 
stipulating for friendship between the two countries, for 
the reception of " any Ambassador or Envoy " whom either 
of the high contracting parties might see fit to appoint, for 
the establishment of commercial intercourse, and for the 
payment of an import duty of 5 per cent, in Shoa, and of 
no greater duties in England than are levied on British 

The treaty with the Emperor of Abyssinia in 1849 con- 
sists of nineteen articles, of which the first sixteen and the 
last are nearly verbatim the same as the sixteen composing 
the treaty with the King of Shoa; — with the difierence, 
however, that by the second treaty it is stipulated that the 
high contracting parties shall receive and protect " any 
Ambassador, Envoy, or Consul," whom they may recipro- 
cally see fit to appoint. 

From the reference to this treaty made in Earl RusselPs 
despatch, it might be imagined that while Her Britannic 
Majesty agreed to "receive and protect any Ambassador, 
Envoy, or Consul,^^ His Majesty of Abyssinia would " re- 
ceive an Ambassador " only ; but in the treaty itself the 
reciprocity is equal and complete. The later treaty con- 
tains further the following important addition : — 


" Article XVII. — His Majesty of Abyssinia agrees that 
in all cases when a British subject shall be accused of any 
crime committed in any part of His Majesty^s dominions, 
the accused shall be tried and adjudged by the British 
Consul, or other officer duly appointed for that purpose 
by Her Britannic Majesty ; and in all cases when disputes 
or differences shall arise between British subjects, or be- 
tween British subjects and the subjects of His Majesty of 
Abyssinia, or between British subjects and the subjects of 
any other foreign Power, within the dominions of His Ma- 
jesty of Abyssinia, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, or 
other duly appointed officer, shall have poiver to hear and 
decide the same, without any interference, molestation, or 
hindrance on the part of any authority of Abyssinia, either 
before, during, or after the litigation. 

" Article XVIII. — If any British subject shall die in the 
territories of His Majesty of Abyssinia, the British Consul, 
or in his absence his representative, shall have the right to 
take charge of the papers and property of the deceased, for 
the benefit of his lawful heirs and creditors, without any 
interference on the part of the Abyssinian authorities." 

It is to these additions to the treaty of 1841 introduced 
into that of 1849, and also generally to the establishment 
of a Consulate — that is to say a *' Levant ^^ Consulate — 
within his dominions, that the Emperor Theodore princi- 
pally, if not entirely, objected : not to the treaty itself. 
From his own subjects who had visited Egypt and the Holy 
Land, as well as from travellers of other nations, he had 
heard of the al)uonnal privileges enjoyed by European 
Consuls in those countries, and of the abuses they have often 
given rise to; and he was determined — and no one can 


blame him for it — that within his dominions an imperium 
in imperio, like that within the Turkish dominions, should 
not exist. 

If Earl Russell wrongfully charged the Emperor Theo- 
dore with, not keeping his engagements, his subordinate, 
Mr. Layard, in the debate in the House of Commons on 
June 30th, 1865, even more wrongfully accused Consul 
Plowden of breach of duty. His words were, " Unfortu- 
nately, Mr. Plowden, our Consul at Massowah, instead of 
attending to the object with which he was placed there, 
that of encouraging commercial intercourse between Great 
Britain and Abyssinia, plunged into the local intrigues. 
He and Mr. Bell sided with King Theodore, and actually 
commanded his troops. When information reached home 
that Mr. Plowden was thus mixing himself up with local 
conflicts, and acting exactly in opposition to the spirit of 
the policy which he had been placed there to carry out. 
Her Majesty's Government at once sent out instructions 
for him to return to his post at Massowah, and no longer 
to interfere in those local differences. Unfortunately, 
before those instructions reached him, Mr. Plowden had 
been killed by a native Abyssinian chief*. 

This accusation drew forth the following indignant pro- 
test on the part of Consul Plowden's brother : — 

" Mr. Plowden was accredited to Abyssinia, and not to 
Massowah, which is a Turkish port, without trade, with no 
mercantile interests and no British subjects to protect, and 
is valuable only as the means of entry into Abyssinia and 
of communication with Europe, obviously the reasons for 
its being made the head quarters of the Consulate. The 
* ' Times,' July 1, 186c 


duties of the Consul were to watch and counteract foreign 
intrigue — that of France especially ; — to keep peace be- 
tween Abyssinia and Egypt; to obtain the abolition of 
slavery, and to establish and promote commercial inter- 
course between Great Britain and Abyssinia. His duties 
commenced in 1848 with a mission to Ras Ali, the then 
ruler, to whom he was charged with presents and with 
instructions to conclude a treaty. It was in this capacity 
he returned to Ras AH, and not, as Mr. Layard says, to 
remain in his ser\dce. 

" From that time to the day of his death the greater 
portion of his life was spent in visits to the interior and to 
the King's Court — first to Ras Ali, and afterwards to King 
Theodore. These visits were made with the sanction and 
approval of the Foreign Office, w^th whom he maintained 
a constant correspondence, and by whose instructions he 
was throughout guided. His quarterly certificates, for- 
warded from various places in the interior, declared him 
to be ' at his post,' and ' in the exercise of his duties,' 
always without challenge or reproof from his superiors. 

" He left ]\Iassowah on his last visit on the 25th of 
March, 1855, and was killed in March 1860, on his return 

" In this enforced absence of five years (for he expected 
to be away as many months only) he carried on his usual 
correspondence with the Foreign Office, and in accordance 
with his instructions had frequent personal interviews with 
King Theodore. Neither in this period, nor before, was he 
found fault with for quitting Massowah, nor was any pro- 
hiljition to visit the interior issued. It was impossible 
there could have been ; for the duties required of him were 


those of an envoy and minister, absolutely necessitating his 
presence in the interior, and involving personal intercourse 
with the King ; and I assert that this necessity was known 
to and recognized by the Foreign Office up to the middle 
of 1859, and during the tenure of that office by Lords 
Palmerston and Clarendon, to whom the facts I have 
stated must doubtless be well known. At all events, the 
official despatches will prove what I have said; and 1 
challenge their production, as well as of any orders or 
instructions which my brother is alleged to have dis- 

There can be no question as to the facts thus plainly 
stated, and it is deeply to be regretted that the Under 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should have spoken 
so entirely at random. But, however Consul Plowden may 
have been occupied during the last four years of his life, 
from 1856 to 1859, it is certain tliat no definite arrange- 
ment was come to, either with respect to the treaty or to 
the sending of an Embassy to England. One reason may 
be, that Theodore was far too much occupied at home to 
be able to turn his attention to foreign affairs. He had 
invaded and conquered the territories of our ally the King 
of Shoa ; he had also extended his conquests considerably 
in the south and centre of the empire ; but he had thereby 
been forced to neglect the northern portions of it, more 
especially Tigre and the other dominions of his great 
competitor Ubye, whom he still kept in imprisonment. 

The result was that a serious rival rose to power in 
that province in the person of a relative of Ubye, named 
Negusye — called Agau Negiisye, from his being a native 
* ' Standard,' July 10, 1865. 


of the adjoiuiug Agau (Agow) country — who raised the 
standard of " rebellion " in Tigre, of which province he 
Mas recognized as the independent sovereign by the French 
Consul at Massowah, and also by Msgr. de' Jacobis, who 
since his banishment had continued to reside at Halai, 
the frontier town at the eastern edge of the tableland. The 
Emperor Napoleon likewise entered into friendly relations 
with Negiisye, and wrote to Theodore, in reply to his 
offers of alliance, recognizing his sovereignty west of the 
Takkazye, but desiring him to recognize Negusye as King 
of the country to the east of that river — that is to say, 
Tigre, the ancient kingdom of the Axumites. 

This alliance between the Emperor Napoleon and Ne- 
gusye led to the following remarkable incident. 

In December 1859, Captain de Russel, of the French 
navy, landed at Zulla (the ancient Adulis), near Massowah, 
and proceeded into the interior. The professed object of 
this mission was purely scientific, Captain de E-ussel being 
accompanied by no less than fourteen savans ! At bottom 
it proved to be a political mission to the "Emperor'' 
Negusye. The cause of this " scientific " mission was 
a letter addressed by Negusye to the Emperor Napo- 
leon, offering to cede to him the Bay of Adulis (Annes- 
Icy Bay) and the Island of Dissce (Valentia Island) at its 
entrance, in consideration of French troops being sent 
to aid Negusye in acquiring full possession of Tigrc. 
The Paris newspapers said at the time, " la mission a par- 
faitement reussi,'' the French envoy having proceeded us 
far as Gondar (Theodore's capital!), where he had an 
interview with the " Emperor " Negusye. The fact how- 
ever is, that the mission was unable to penetrate further 


than Halai, at which place Captain de Russel awaited 
Negusye^s arrival. But the latter was prevented from 
joining him by Theodore^s troops, who even came as far as 
Halai, where they made the French envoy and his com- 
panions prisoners, allowing them to remain in Msgr. de^ 
Jacobis's house, under the latter's pledge that they should 
not leave it till the Emperor Theodore^ s pleasure should be 
known. Captain de Russel and his party escaped, how- 
ever, during the night of the 5th of February, 1860, and 
returned in safety on board their vessel ; whilst Msgr. de' 
Jacobis was imprisoned and fined for having allowed them 
to escape, and died soon afterwards from the ill-treatment 
he sustaiued. 

Simultaneously and intimately connected with the oc- 
currences thus related, a disastrous event took place, 
which was destined to be the precursor of others yet more 

In the month of February 1860, Consul Plowden, while 
marching with a small body of his followers, was attacked 
by a much larger force under a chief named Garred, a 
cousin of Negusye, the French " King of Tigre.^' Mr. 
Plowden was wounded, taken prisoner, ransomed by the 
Emperor*, but in the following month died of his 
wounds. In October of the same year, Theodore, accom- 
panied by Mr. Bell, advanced against Garred for the 
purpose of avenging Consul Plowden's death. Garred, 
with a force of about 2000 men, was encamped in 
Waldabba, when Theodore's advanced guard, led by 

* This act having been reported to the Government in India, a 
vahiable present was sent to the Emperor from Bombay, independently 
of the rifle and pair of pistols sent as a present from Her Majesty. 


Bell, made a furious attack on them. In the conflict, 
which was brief, Bell slew Garrecl with his own hand, but 
was himself immediately killed by Garred's brothers. A 
considerable number of the latter's troops having fallen, 
the rest threw down their arms and sm'rendered at discre- 
tion, when Theodore, after putting Garred's brothers to 
death with his own hand, executed also all who had 
surrendered. This frightful sacrifice offered up by a 
Christian sovereign to the manes of the two unfortu- 
nate British officers may appear incredible, but it is 
nevertheless a fact'^. The particulars of it may best be 
given in the Emperor's own account of the occurrence 
to Captain Cameron, as reported by that officer: — "His 
Majesty gave me a detailed account of his last campaign 
against Negusi. This he did with much apparent mo- 
desty. He dAvelt with graphic clearness on the death- 
scene of his late Grand Chamberlain, the Englishman 
Bell, in which om' countryman singled out the chief, 
Garratt, to whom Mr. Plowden owed his death, and killed 
him on the battle-field ; whilst the King similarly dis- 
patched the same rebel's brother. Both the slain were his 
Majesty's cousins. He spoke of his further revenge for 
Mr. Plowden's death when he executed 1 500 of Garratt's 
followers on the same day. He did this, he said, to win the 
friendship of Her Majesty" f. 

* Tilt! following is the account given by Mr. Stern in page 129 of 
his ' Wanderings among the Falashas : ' — " On October 31st, 1860, 
three thousand rebels, with their leader Oerat, were defeated by the 
Itoyal troops n(!ar the western bank of the Taccazy, and mercilessly 
butchered in cold blood : in fact, so inexorable was the King, that even 
their wives and cliildrcn — contrary to former custom — were indis- 
criminately condemned to perpetual slavery." 

t Parliamentary I'ap'i", iHUi, ' Further Correspondence,' &c.,p. -50. 


From Earl RussclFs despatch of February 20tli, 1862, 
given in a subsequent page, it appears that the Emperor 
also wrote to his Lordship, informing him of '^ the steps 
he had taken to punish the men who murdered Mr. Plow- 
den and Mr. Bell,^' and that his Lordship thanked His 
Majesty for so doing in the name of the Queen*. 

Following up his victory over Garred's detachment, 
Theodore now marched against the main body of Negusye's 
army, Avhich he completely routed in January 1861, Nc- 
gusye falling into the hands of his merciless conqueror, 
by whom he was put to death, together with several of 
his relatives and principal adherents. On the unfortunate 
Prince himself was inflicted the punishment awarded to a 
traitor and murderer. His right hand and left foot were 
struck off, and he was then left, exposed to public gaze, to 
linger till he died. 

Negusye's defeat and death did not put an end to the 
attempts to maintain Tigre as an independent State. His 
successor, Mehret, a chief of Hamasyen, who like Negusye 
was supported by the French and Romish party, had how- 
ever but a short reign. Theodore, ever fruitful in strata- 
gem, enticed him into the power of one of his adherents, 
by whom, in October 1861, he was put in chains to await 
the will of the Emperor, who ordered him to be executed. 

Before quitting this portion of the subject, it will be 
well to give here a summary of the subsequent move- 
ments of our allies and neighbours, the French, along 
the Abyssinian coast. 

The ill success of the attempt to obtain a cession of 

* See page 68. 


the Bay of Adiilis and the Island of Dissee only stimulated 
the French Government to make a fi'csh one of a more 
systematic and adroit character in another quarter. 

In July 1859, M. Henri Lambert, French Consul at Aden, 
— brother to M. Joseph Lambert, formerly a merchant 
in Mauritius, and afterwards Minister of the King of 
Madagascar, by whom he was sent to France on a mission 
to the Emperor Napoleon, — was accidently drowned on 
the Somauli coast, while crossing from Hodeida to Ta- 
djurrah in a native boat belonging to the port of Zeila. The 
former Governor of that place, Abu Bekr, who was then at 
Tadjurrah, revenged himself on his rival and successor. 
Sheikh Shermerki, by accusing him of the murder of M. 
Lambert. As soon as this became known at Aden, the 
British Political Resident, Brigadier (now Sir William M.) 
Coghlan, dispatched his Assistant, Captain Playfair, in 
H.M.S. 'Furious,'' to investigate the matter on the spot; 
when it was found that M. Lambert' s.^ death was purely 
accidental, and the charge against Shermarki trumped up 
by Abu Bekr out of sheer malice. The matter afforded, 
however, a pretext, such as had been long desired, for 
French interference. Accordingly, the French corvette 
' Somme,' Commodore Vicomte de Langle, went to Zeila 
towards the end of 1860, to investigate the matter; 
when Shermarki and about a dozen other natives, most 
wrongfully accused of being M. Lambert's murderers, 
were made prisoners, and carried to Hodeida, to l)e judged 
bv the Turkish Governor, witliiii whose jui'isdiction Zeila 
and Tadjurrah lie. The latter refusing to act in the matter, 
M. de Langle proceeded to Djidda, where he appealed to 
the Governor-General of Yemen, who likewise declined to 


interfere. On this the French Commodore sailed for 
France with all his prisoners except Shermarki, who had 
died on board ship in the harbour of Djidda. 

Representations were now made to the Porte by the 
French Ambassador at Constantinople, the result of which 
was that tlie Porte made over to France the revenues of 
the port of Zeila, till the sum of 30,000 dollars, the 
estimated cost of M. de Langle's mission to investigate the 
circumstances of M. Lambert^s death, should be paid. 

Emboldened by success, the Government of France went 
on yet further, showing but too plainly what were their 
real designs. 

Towards the end of April 1862, the French aviso ^Cu- 
rieux,' after cruising about the Red Sea for several 
months, went to Suez, where she took on board the native 
Somaulis and Dankalis, who had been carried to France by 
Commodore de Langle, the professed object being to con- 
vey them back home. But with them went M. Schaefer, 
first Oriental Interpreter to the Emperor ; who, having 
carefully surveyed all the Dankali coast from Massowah to 
Zeila, fixed on a site for a settlement at Obokh, near Ras 
Bir, about midway between the Straits of Babelmandeb 
and Tadjurrah, and exactly opposite Aden; which place 
he purchased of the native governors of Tadjurrah and 
Raheita for the sum of 10,000 dollars, taking formal pos- 
session of it in the name of the Emperor Napoleon. 

There ought not to be any doubt as to the illegality of 
this purchase from acknowledged vassals of the Ottoman 
Porte, paying customs-duties to the Governor of Zeila, 
who is subject to the Governor of Hodeida. But the 
French have at all events succeeded in establishing a 


holding title ; and wc shall doubtless see ere loiig the use 
to which this settlement will be put. It is evidently 
intended for a base of operations against Abyssinia; 
and to it, as such, the Emperor Theodore's attention 
was drawn by Consul Cameron, under instructions from 
Mr. (now Sir Kobert G.) Colquhoun, Her Majesty's 
Agent and Consul-General in Egypt*. 

The acquisition of Obokh by the French was first 
announced by me in the ^Times' of June 16th, ]862. 
It would be well if a motion were made in Parliament 
for the Papers relating to this subject as well as to the 
transfer from Turkey to Egypt of the western coast of 
the Red Sea, to which allusion is made in a subsequent 
Chapter t. 

* Parliamentary Paper, 18GG, ' Further Correspondence,' &c., p. 51. 
And see page 72, jmst. 
t See pages 134, 135. 




It would occupy far too much time and space, and would 
besides be to no good purpose, were I to detail the sub- 
sequent events of Theodore's reign, consisting as they do 
of a succession of campaigns into the various provinces 
of the Empire, the rulers and people of which were only 
lirought into subjection by the presence of his troops, and 
" revolted,' ' the one after the other, as soon as these 
troops were withdraAvn. I proceed therefore to relate 
those events in which our countrj-men have taken part, 
and which have unhappily given occasion to the present 

As soon as the news of Consul Plowden's death reached 
England, Captain Charles Duncan Cameron, who had 
served on the staff of Sir W. Fcnwick Williams, Her 
Majesty's Commissioner with the Turkish army in the 
East, was appointed his successor. Captain Cameron's ap- 
pointment as " Her Majesty's Consul in Abyssinia" was 
annovmced in the ' London Gazette' of June 24th, 18G0; 
but it was only on February 9th, 1862, two years after 
Consul Plowden's death, that he arrived at Massowah, 
which island he was ordered to '^ consider as the head- 
quarters of his Consulate," and whence, following his 
predecessor's example, he proceeded to the Court of the 


Emperor Theodore, to whom he was the bearer of pre- 
sents from the Britisli Government, 

Before ^dsiting the Abyssinian Court, Captain Cameron 
accompanied the Duke of Saxe Coburg on an excursion 
into the country of Bogos, on the northern frontier of 
Abyssinia ; so that it was not till July that he reached 

During the rainy season of 1862 Consul Cameron re- 
mained at Gondar, but at its close he was sent for by the 
Emperor, whom he joined at his camp in Godjam on the 
7th of October. He was received with a salute of twelve 
guns ; and 6000 cavalry, infantry, and matchlock-men 
were marched on to escort him into camp. His reception, 
Cameron himself says, was the best His Majesty had yet 
accorded to an envoy ; and the same opinion has been ex- 
pressed by Europeans who were present on the occasion. 

At the first interview, which lasted several hours. His 
Majesty gave a detailed account of his last campaign 
against Agau Negusye, as has been already narrated* ; 
and " he afterwards broke out into invectives against the 
Turks, said they were encroaching on him on every side, 
spoke of the seven flags (as he expressed it) that they had 
planted on the sea-coast, and dwelt much upon alleged 
advances from the Egyptian quarter. He announced his 
intention of fighting with them, and sending ambassadors 
to the European nations to justify his conduct "f- 

Two days after this interview Consul Cameron received 
a message from His Majesty, directing him to put down 

• Page 60. 

t Parliamentary Paper, IHfifi, ' Furthor Correspondence,' &c., 
p. 50. 


his business with him on paper. On this, says that offieer, 
in his despatch to Earl Russell of October 31, 1862, '^ I 
wrote immediately that I was deputed to present him with 
certain gifts and a letter of introduction ; also to discuss 
with him regarding the future. That when Mr. Plowden 
was killed there were two points under discussion, \\z., 
1st, a Treaty; 2nd, the sending an Embassy to England. 
I offered to take these up where Mr. Plowden had left 

Next day Captain Cameron was sent for to deliver his 
presents and the letter from Earl Russell, of which letter 
the following is a copy : — 

" Foreign Office, February 20, 1862. 

" Sir, — The Queen my Sovereign has been informed by 
her servants in the East of the exertions which your 
Highness kindly made to recover the remains of her late 
Consul, Mr. Plowden, and of youi* generosity in declining 
to accept repayment of the sum of money which you paid 
for that purpose. Her Majesty commands me to assure 
your Highness that she views your conduct in regard to 
this affair as a proof of friendship towards herself and the 
British nation, of which she is duly sensible. 

" In order more particularly to manifest Her Majesty's 
thankfulness for these your Highness's services, and to 
show her regard aT>d friendship for you personally. Her 
Majesty requests your acceptance of a rifle and a pair of 
revolver pistols as a present from herself. Her Majesty 
has intrusted these articles to Captain Charles Duncan 
Cameron, whom she has appointed her Consul in Abyssinia, 
as the successor of the late Mr. Plowden, and who has 
* ' Further Correspondence,' &(•., p. 50. 



lately taken his departure for liis post; and I take this 
opportunity of introducing him to your Highness, and of 
requesting your pi'otection and favour in his behalf. He 
is well acquainted with all that concerns the interests of 
both countries, and will, I am confident, do all in his 
power to make himself acceptable to your Highness and 
to promote your av el fare. 

" I thank your Highness for the letter which you ad- 
dressed to me, informing me of the steps which you had 
taken to punish the men who murdered Mr. Plowden and 
Mr. Bell ; and with my best wishes for your uninterrupted 
health and happiness, I recommend you to the protection 
of the Almighty. 

" Your faithful friend, 
(Signed) " RUSSELL.'^ 

" (L.S. The large signet.)" 

These were scarcely the terms in which to address a 
potentate whose predecessors on the throne of Ethiopia 
had been treated as equals and addressed by the name oi 
^'^ brother" by the haughty sovereigns of Spain, and with 
whom her Britannic Majesty^s ancestors, King James the 
First and King George the Third, had corresponded like- 
wise. However, both the letter and the presents gave 
Theodore great pleasure, " especially the inscription on the 
gun, to the effect that it was given by Her Majesty in 
return for the King^s kindness to Mr. Plowden." 

Earl llusseirs instructions to Consul Cameron, as far 
as they have been published*, are somewhat of the 
vaguest; but they would appear to luive been intended to 

* Pari, Paper, 1865, ' Papers relating to ibo Iiuj)risonment of 
r.riti>li Sulijccts,' pp. 1, 2. 


leave him to be governed very mueh by cireumstances and 
liis own discretion. It was, however, understood that he 
Avas to take the conduct of his predecessor, Consul Plowden, 
as his guide generally; and it is quite certain that his at- 
tention was expressly drawn to the negotiations still pend- 
ing for a new treaty and for the dispatch of an embassy to 
England ; which, though unavoidably interrupted in conse- 
quence of the death of Consul Plowden and Mr. Bell, had not 
been, and still were not intended to be broken off, either on 
the part of the Emperor Theodore or on that of the British 

In proof of this, we have the statement of Mr. Stern, 
that the Emperor, on hearing from him in the beginning 
of 1860 how prisoners of war were treated in other 
Christian countries, said to him, " You are superior to 
us in all things ; and, if God permit, I shall soon send 
an embassy to England, to open the eyes of at least a few 
of my people.^^ And when Mr. Stern, on his departure 
for England, took leave of Mr. Bell, the latter told him 
that " their next meeting would be either in Tigre or in 
London, to which latter place he was expecting to accom- 
pany an Abyssinian embassy." 

And, as regards the Foreign Office, it is a fact that 
after Captain Cameron had been appointed Consul Plow- 
den's successor, but before he arrived in England from 
the post he held in the Black Sea, Mr. Stern was re- 
quested by Earl Hussell to remain in London, in order 
that he might see Captain Cameron and discuss with him 
the subject of the contemplated embassy and other matters, 
which had remained in suspense since Consul Plowdcn's 


Yet, notwithstanding that Consul Cameron had full 
authority to take up the two matters where his prede- 
cessor had left them, jNIr. Layard, in his place in Par- 
liament on October 31, 1865, when quoting the foregoing 
extract from Consul Cameron^s despatch of October 31, 
1862"^, ventured to say: — "Now this was altogether con- 
trary to the instructions he had received. So far was Consul 
Cameron from being instructed to propose an embassy to 
England from the King, that he was distinctly told that 
Her Majesty^s Government would not entertain the idea 
of a mission unless he gave up all idea of conquering the 
Tm'ks and invading Turkish territory; so that Consul 
Cameron was not justified in making such a proposal to 
the King, It appears that the King, thinking that Consul 
Cameron might induce Her Majesty's Government to 
assist him in exterminating the Mohammedans, wrote the 
letter to Her Majesty which has been quoted by the 
honourable Gentleman [Sir Hugh Cairns] . / have reason 
to think that this letter ivas entii'ely got up by Consul 
Cameron, who wished to come to this country with the em- 
bassy. 1 am quite under that impression '^ t- 

But what is the fact? It was not Consul Cameron 
at all who proposed the embassy. He expressly says 
that ill the first instance he " received a peremptory 
message from His Majesty to leave for the sea at once, 
and send him an answer whether the British Govern7nent 
would receive an embassy or not." 

On the receipt of tliis message. Consul Cameron's judi- 
cious reflections were these : — " I considered, on the other 
hand, that as I had been sent to His Majesty at a con- 
• See page 67. t ' Times,' July 1, 1865. 


siderable expense and on a mission of pnre courtesy, it 
was his duty at least to give me some reply to the question 
of a treaty, which had been so long pending, including the 
other important point as to his admitting a representative 
of Great Britain to reside in his country, if such were our 

"I thought, too, that unless I had clear details with 
regard to his projected embassy, much embarrassment 
might ensue to us hereafter; while at the same time I 
wished to know His Majesty ^s intentions regarding the 
Slave Trade, and to elicit information from him regarding 
an intercourse with his new kingdom of Shoa, and his 
hold on the tribes to the side of Zeyla. 

"I therefore wrote His Majesty a letter, a copy of 
which is herewith inclosed." 

This letter from Consul Cameron to the Emperor is 
given in the Appendix, and it fully confirms the state- 
ment made in Earl TlusselPs letter to the Emperor, by 
which Consul Cameron was introduced and accredited to 
him as Her Britannic Majesty's " Consul in Abyssinia, 
as the successor of the late Mr. Plowden,'^ that — " He is 
well acquainted with all that concerns the interests of both 
countries, and will, I am confident, do all in his power to 
make himself acceptable to your Highness, and to promote 
your welfare." 

In his despatch to Earl Russell, Consul Cameron goes 
on to say : — " Fortunately, just as it [the letter to the 
Emperor] was finished, I got a batch of letters from 
Massowah. One was a letter from Mr. Colquhouu, telling 
me that he had received my despatch to yoiu' Lordship 
stating my fears that Turkey intended to encroach on 


Abyssinia from her new settlements on the coast ; to 
which he replied that the Porte would be warned to do 
nothing which could give umbrage to King Theodore. 
He added that I ought to inform His Majesty that his 
best mode of obtaining the sympathies of England was 
by putting down the Slave Trade in his dominions. 

" There was a further passage regarding Mr. Schaefer^s 
mission to Tadjurrah, which was corroborated by an 
extract from the ' Home and Overland Mail/ forwarded 
from Aden, stating what the mission had done, and that 
the new settlement^ was merely intended for a base of 
operations against Abyssinia. 

" All this, together with the old treaty made with Kas 
Ali, was carefully read through to His Majesty by two in- 
terpreters well conversant with English. 

" I also forwarded His Majesty a letter, in Arabic, from 
Jerusalem, detailing the part our Consul had taken in 
some outrage against the Abyssinian community there. 

" The King, at the same time, got information that 
Russia had 40,000 men within four days of Constantinople ; 
that Sayid Pasha had gone to France; and that the Sultan 
was in Egypt. 

" This various intelligence seems to have pressed hea'vily 
on His Majesty. He sent a message thanking me, entreat- 
ing me to obsei've the peril in which he was from two 
powerful enemies, and begging me to act sincerely by 

" On the following morning I sent a note to His 
Majesty, telling him that, if he wished, I would return 
by Matamraa, where he told me the Tniks had been 
* Namely, at Obokb. See pages 03, 64. 

Theodore's enemies, the French and the Egyptians. 73 

taking tribute unjustly and gathering troops, and do -what 
I could there to keep them back, or, at least, collect facts 
which might tell against them hereafter. Matamma is, 
just now, a hot-bed of fever. 

" I reassured him about Ids embassy ; and wishing to 
mention something more about his statement regarding not 
provoking attack, which, as your Lordship will perceive, I 
had written to him to say that I would report, I sent him 
a letter which I have expedited to our Consul at Khartoum 
asking the latter to do his utmost to preserve peace, but, 
above all, to report military movements or aggression on 
Abyssinia to Alexandria. 

"I told His Majesty that I did this for his sake; he 
must also now keep his own governors in restraint. 

" The answer of His Majesty was kind in the extreme.'^ 

For the proper understanding of what is here stated, it 
should be explained that the '^two powerful enemies" 
were, — first, the French, the allies of Negusye, to whose 
acquisition of Obokh, the Consul-General in Egypt had 
drawn Consul Cameron^s attention; and secondly, the 
Egyptians, who were daily making encroachments along 
the northern frontiers of the empire. 

The part our Consul at Jerusalem had " taken in some 
outrage against the Abyssinian community there '' requires 
a more lengthened explanation and reference. 

It is a well-known fact that friendly feelings towards 
England have been kept up in Abyssinia by gratitude for 
the good offices rendered to the community of that nation 
at Jerusalem, a spot regarded by them with the deepest 
veneration. The Holy City is to the Abyssinians a sort 
of heaven upon earth, to whicli they have eagerly made 


pilgrimages from the olden time. To have been to Jeru- 
salem imparts to the traveller^ in their estimation, a 
sanctity far greater tlian the pilgrimage to Mecca gives 
to the Mohammedan hadji. 

It was this that disposed the Abyssinians to receive 
Bishop Gobat when he first went to Abyssinia as a mis- 
sionary, he having prepared himself by a short stay in Je- 
rusalem, where he made himself known to the Abyssinian 
residents. When he was made Bishop of Jerusalem in 
1846, the Abyssinians rejoiced at his appointment, and the 
community of that nation in Jerusalem were placed under 
his spiritual rule by the princes of that country. 

In July 1852, Bishop Gobat, who Avas then in London, 
appealed to Her Majesty's Government on behalf of Ras 
Ali and Dedjatj Ubye, who had adopted at a meeting at 
Gondar a resolution to the effect that Her Majesty should 
be requested to authorize the bishop to protect and super- 
intend their countrymen visiting or residing in Jerusalem, 
and to authorize the British Consul at Jerusalem to lend 
him his assistance for that pu.rpose when required. 

Lord Malmesbury^s answer to this request was, that 
" Her Majesty's Government could not undertake to pro- 
tect officially the natives of Abyssinia who might chance 
to be residing in the territory of the Sublime Porte. But 
Her Majesty's Consul at Jerusalem would be instructed to 
use his good offices for them, in case of need, as members 
of a Christian Church in spiritual communion with the 
Established Churcli in this country." 

Under these " proi)cr and judicious " instructions, as 
they are styled by J^^arl Russell, no difficulty occurred 
during the ten years of the British " olHcious " pro tec- 


torate of the Abyssinians in Jerusalem — that is to say, 
from 1852 to 1862. 

The Abyssinian pilgrims, finding there was safety from 
personal violence, came to Jerusalem in largely increased 
numbers, and the settlers in the convent of that nation 
amounted to more than a hundred. 

This prosperity of the Abyssinians raised the jealousy of 
the Copts and Armenians in Jerusalem. During the Egyp- 
tian rule in Palestine, those two communities bad joined 
together in despoiling the Abyssinians of much of their pro- 
perty in Jerusalem. It happened that the Abyssinian 
monks had all died of the plague, and the Armenians and 
Copts got possession of their title-deeds and destroyed them, 
under pretence of infection. The Armenian convent, how- 
ever, supplied the Abyssinian pilgrims with a daily provi- 
sion of soup and bread, as a kind of compensation. 

From the year 1855 those two communities began 
again to molest the Abyssinians in various ways, and even 
threatened to take away their only remaining property, 
consisting of their convent and chiu'ch. But, finding that 
the British Consul was informed of all that passed, no 
violence was attempted by them. 

In 1856 the Egyptian Government sent a political mis- 
sion to Abyssinia, and deputed the Coptic Patriarch, in his 
capacity of chief of the Coptic and Abyssinian Churches, 
to be the envoy. The Emperor Theodore resented this in- 
terference, and seized the Patriarch's money (all in Frencli 
gold) and baggage, barely permitting him to return to 
Egypt. On his arrival there the Patriarch took his re- 
venge, by selling to the Armenians, as Russian subjects, 
for 60,000 dollars, the Abyssinian church and convent in 


Jerusalem. The Abyssiiiiaus in that city naturally refused 
to recognize the sale ; and so long as the English Consul 
"was there to prevent violent hands being laid on them, 
they could not be turned out. Under these circumstances, 
the Russians did not openly insist on their purchase. 

In 1862 a fresh attack was made. The Copts and Ar- 
menians had now enlisted on their side the Turkish Pasha 
of Jerusalem, who marched a body of Tui'kish soldiers 
into the Abyssinian convent^, but withdrew them on the 
appearance of the British Consul, whom the affrighted 
Abyssinians had summoned to the spot. Sureya Pasha 
now asserted the sovereignty of Turkey over the Abyssi- 
nians as a nation, denying the right of English officials to 
notice what might befall Turkish subjects, and declaring 
that Turkey would never abandon her claim to Abyssinia. 
On this the British Consul, j\Ir. Finn, anxious to avoid 
a collision with the Turkish Pasha, wrote to the Foreign 
Office for instructions, and in reply was referred by Earl 
E-ussell to those given him in 1852. 

The Abyssinians, on their part, wrote to their own 
Sovereign, praying him to send an embassy to England, 
with a view to obtain eff'ectual protection for their property 
and lives. This letter was dispatched from Jerusalem in 
1862, and is evidently the " letter in Arabic," which is 
alluded to in Consul Cameron's despatch. 

On the day after these matters had been discussed be- 
tween the Emperor and Consul Cameron, another inter- 
view took })lace, the rcsidt of which was that the former 
" said voluntarily that he had well considered the subject 
of a Treaty, about which there Avould lie no difficulty, but 
that at prcscut his mind was full of other things; also. 

CONSUL Cameron's departure for massowah. 71 

that if matters went well, he would gladly receive a Consul. 
He likcAvise spoke about putting down the Slave Trade, on 
which I purposely questioned him, 

'^ After this " (Consul Cameron goes on to say) " I 
presented His Royal Highness the Duke of Saxe-Coburg's 
decoration, which was exceedingly well received. 

" He then \\Tote the letter to Her Majesty, which I 
herewith have the honour to forward. 

" The translation was written by his own interpreters. 

" He intended also to have written a letter to Mr. 
Colquhoun about the Slave Trade, and a letter of appeal 
to the King of Holland, similar to those he had already 
dictated, but it was too late. 

" This morning I was told to leave for Massowah. 

*^ I sent a memorandum to His Majesty, reminding him 
of the letter for Mr. Colquhoun, and stated the advantage 
he would derive from it. 

" He replied that he would write afterwards, but assured 
me that he would stop the Slave Trade effectually, not as 
a concession to us, but because he hated it himself. 

" He repeated his expressions of entire confidence in 
me, and added that he believed I would be a friend to 
him, as Mr. Plowden had been before. 

" A royal circular of appeal has likewise been forwarded 
to France from the camp this day by a Frenchman, whom 
the King has given 500 dollars for his road expenses. 

" It states, like the two others, that His Majesty pro- 
jects a struggle with the Turks, and wishes to send am- 
bassadors to France. He requests an answer by the 
bearer, who is, however, travelling slowly. 

" One will also go for Russia, with which country His 


Majesty lias been in some commuiiicatiou. Others arc 
being prepared for the German Powers. 

" As it is desirable on every account that we should 
not be without a correspondence in Abyssinia for a con- 
siderable time, I am preparing a letter on the subject to 
the Resident at Aden, a copy of which will herewith be 

The Emperor's letter to Her Majesty was as follows : — 

" In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost, one God in Trinity. 

" [The] chosen by God, King of Kings, Theodoros of 
Ethiopia, to Her Majesty Victoria, Queen of England. 

'' I hope your Majesty is in good health. By the power 
of God I am well. 

'' My fathers the Emperors having forgotten our Crea- 
tor, he handed over their kingdom to the Gallas and 
Turks *. But God created me, lifted me out of the dust, 
and restored this empire to my rule. He endowed me 
with power, and enabled me to stand in the place of 
my fathers. By His power I drove away the Gallas. 
But for the Turks I have told them to leave the land 
of my ancestors. They refuse. I am now going to 
wrestle with them. 

" Mr. Plowden, and my late Grand Chamberlain, the 
Englishman Bell, used to tell me that there is a great 
Christian Queen, who loves all Christians. When they 
said to me this, ' We are able to make you known to 
her, and to establish friendship between you,' then in 

* Tlif Abyssinians use the word " Turk " to mean Mohaminedaus 
in general, witliout regard to nationality. In most cases, when the 
Turks are spoken of, the Tureo- Egyptians are intended. 

Theodore's letter to the queen of enoland. 79 

those times I was very glad. I gave them my love, 
thinking that I had found your Majesty's goodwill. All 
men are subject to death; and my enemies, thinking to 
injure me, killed these my friends. But by the power 
of God I have exterminated those enemies, not leaving 
one alive, though they were of my own family, that I may 
get, by the power of God, your friendship. 

'' I was prevented by the Tui'ks occupying the sea- 
coast from sending you an Embassy when I was in diffi- 
culty. Consul Cameron arrived with a letter and presents 
of friendship. By the power of God I was very glad 
hearing of your welfare, and being assured of your amity. 
I have received your presents, and thank you much. 

"1 fear that if I send Ambassadors with presents of 
amity by Consul Cameron, they may be arrested by the 

" And now I wish that you may arrange for the safe 
passage of my Ambassadors everywhere on the road. 

" I wish to have an answer to this letter by Consul Ca- 
meron, and that he may conduct my Embassy to England. 

" See how the Islam oppress the Christian" ^. 

Consul Cameron's letter to the Resident at Aden has 
not been given in the Papers laid before Parliament. It 
was written at the instigation of Samuel Georgis, who had 
been (so to say) a party to Major Harris's mission to the 
King of Shoa in 1841 f, and it was to the effect that the 

* This refers to the Moslem oppression of the Christians at Jeru- 
salem. " Islam " is the Abyssinian form of " Moslems." 

t As it will be interesting to know who " Samuel, the Emperor's 
Steward," is, I give here an extract from a * Memoir on the Euro- 
peans who have \'isited the Kingdom of Shoa during the present Cen- 
tury,' dated 7th September, 1841, being one of four Memoirs which I 


Indian Government should fortlnvith dispatch a similar 
mission to the Emperor Theodore. 

After receiving the letter for the Queen, Captain 
Cameron lost no time in taking his departure for the 
coast. He was accompanied by the following five per- 
sons : — Samuel, the Emperor's steward; Mertcha, a son 
of Aito Warkye, an Armenian, who settled in Abyssinia 
many years ago, and was known to me in Shoa — Mertcha 

drew up for Major Harris whilst in Shoa, as is recorded in my * State- 
ment of Facts,' relative to the transactions between that officer and 
myself, published in the year 1845 (2nd edit. 1846) : — 

" Samuel Georgis, or Hussein, is the son of a Mohammedan Danlcali 
chief of Northern Abyssinia, who stood hig-h in the favour of Saba- 
gadis, the late ruler of Tigre, and who was well kuown to the Rev. 
Mr. Gobat, a British missionary in that part of the country. His 
father having been mui'dered shortly after the untimely death of his 
chief, Samuel Georgis was charitably taken charge of by Mr. Gobat ; 
and on that gentleman's quitting Tigre, was left with his successor, 
Mr. Isenberg. Mr. Krapf, who joined Mr. Isenberg in the beginning 
of 1838, thus became acquainted wdth Samuel Georgis, of whom he 
entei-tained no very good opinion ; and when shortly afterwards (in 
the month of March of the same year) the mission was expelled from 
Tigre by Ubye, he strongly dissuaded Mr. Isenberg from taking the 
lad Avith them. Mr. Isenberg however prevailed, and Samuel Georgis 
accompanied them to Cairo, where he was baptized. But having dis- 
agreed with his preceptors, and 31. Kielmaier having retm'nod to Egj-pt 
from Tigre, preparatory to setting out for Shoa, Hussein volunteered 
to accompany hiiu, and came into Shoa after M. Kielmaier's death, 
arriving here in the beginning of 1840. 

" Samuel Georgis being rather an intelligent yoimg man and of pre- 
possessing manners, the Negiis took a great fancy to him : and as it 
happened that, just at the moment, he, at the suggestion of Mr. Krapf, 
propor^ed writing to Captain Haines, Samuel Georgis was commis- 
sioned by him to be the bearer of his letter, witli the presents tliat 
accompanied it. Towards the end of July he left Shoa for Aden, 
which place he reached not long before my arrival there. Mr. Krapf 
had suggested to Captain Haines that Samuel Georgis should retm-n 
to Egvpt for the purpose of finishing his education; but, as I was in 
want of n servant and interpreter on my journey liithcr, Captain 


himself having been educated in Bombay, and being one 
of the tAvo persons who had interpreted into EngHsh the 
Emperor's letter to the Queen ; two other natives named 
Engada-Wark and Kassa Debotj, who were deputed to 
carry the Emperor's letters to Aden ; and, lastly, M. Bardel, 
the Frenchman referred to in Consul Cameron's despatch 
as being the bearer of the " Royal circular of appeal " to 
the Emperor of the French. 

On his way to the coast, Captain Cameron was stopped 

Haines kindly engaged him to accompany me. At first I had every 
reason to be satisfied with his services ; but when on the road he 
accidently discovered that he was nearly related to Loaita, the power- 
ful chief of the Debeni Danakil, he began to give himself airs ; and 
when subsequently, as we approached this country, we saw letters 
from Walasma Mohammed to the principal chiefs of the Debeni and 
Weema tribes, desiring them to ' take good care of all travellers 
coming to Ifat, and especially of Hadji Dufey, Rochet, and Hussein,' 
his head was quite turned, and he fancied himself to be a much greater 
man than his master. And I believe he really was in the eyes of the 
Negiis and his people ; and it was to prevent a recurrence of similar 
conduct in the event of his accompanying the embassy — in whose case 
it would have been of far more consequence than it was in that of a 
mere private individual — that Captain Haines detained him on his 
return to Aden, and would not allow him to come again to Shoa imtil 
after the embassy had been received. Had he accompanied it, he 
would have assumed to himself the merit of having brought it. 

" Samuel Georgis returned to Aden on the 3rd of March [1841], 
bearing a letter to Captain Haines, with a few additional presents of 
no great value." 

To these remarks it has to be added that in the King of Shoa's 
letter to the Queen of England, dated October 2nd, 1841 (Pari. 
Paper (54), 1844, 'Shoa, Extracts of Correspondence/ &c.), it is said, 
" By my messenger, Samuel Georgis, I formerly despatched some 
tokens of esteem, together with a letter, wherein I sought your 

I had not heard anything of Samuel Georgis, except that he had 
settled at Aden, till, on my arrival in Abyssinia this year, I was 
enabled to identify him as " Samuel, the Emperor's Steward." 


in Tigre by a " rebel " chief at tlie head of 300 men, 
and compelled to take refuge in the sanctuary of Axum, 
which prevented hira from going down to Massowah and 
caused some delay on his part ; and on the arrival of his 
despatches at that port, they had to be sent to Europe 
by the circuitous route of Aden ; so that they did not 
reach London till the 12th of February, 1863. M. Bardel 
was more fortunate. Whether in accordance with a 
previous arrangement or merely by a lucky coincidence, 
the French vessel of war ' Curieux ' took M. Bardel on 
board at Massowah, and conveyed him with his despatches 
to Djiddah and Suez ; so that, although Consul Cameron 
reported home that he was " travelling slowly ,^^ he arrived 
with them in Paris most probably before the English 
despatches reached Aden. 

These latter despatches were carried down to [Mas- 
sowah and thence to Aden by the two native messengers — 
Mertclia, who accompanied them as far as Massowah, 
remaining at the British Consulate there to bring up the 
answers when they should arrive. Consul Cameron him- 
self, accompanied by Samuel, proceeded to Bogos, in 
accordance with the desire of the Emperor, and as an- 
nounced in the Consul's despatches to Earl Russell and 
to Mr. Colquhoun. 



CONSUL Cameron's journey to bogos— blamed by earl russell 
— correspondence with the board of trade respecting 


CONSUL Cameron's return — interview with the emperor — 

displeasure — M. BARDEL's return from FRANCE — EMPEROR 
napoleon's letter — ITS TREATMENT — CONSUL LEJEAN EX- 
PELLED — CONSUL Cameron's despatches stopped — his mes- 

1863 — Theodore's letter to the queen ignored. 

I HAVE now to narrate the incidents of Consul Cameron's 
journey to Bogos and the neighbouring frontier districts, 
with the highly important consequences of that journey. 

The recent disturbances in Tigre having raised many 
robber-bands. Consul Cameron applied to the authorities, 
who furnished him with an escort of 5000 men across the 
river Mareb into Hamasyen. The strength of this escort 
(he explains) was regulated by their own fears, as the 
Emperor had written to say that if anything happened 
to Cameron he would reduce Tigre to a desert. 

The details of our Consul's proceedings are given in his 
despatch to Earl Russell, dated " Bogos, Abyssinia, March 
31, 1863,'' in which he says that a statement of the facts 
was being carried to King Theodore by his representative 
there, who persisted, with his master, in viewing the 
Turkish claim to the Bogos, Halhal, and Habab as illu- 
sory, — this representative being Samuel, who had accom- 



pauied him as far as Bogos^ and thence returned to his 
master. Consul Cameron had also himself written twice 
to the Emperor explaining matters ; and he adds^ " What 
effect the news from here may have on a character at once 
so passionate and politic, it is impossible for me to say. 
He may either alloAv his grievances to accumulate, in 
order to lay them before Europe hereafter, or he may at 
once take violent measures to compel the TurKs to a 
certain amount of decency in their transactions on his 
frontier. He will, however, do nothing without seeing his 

Among the Papers, for the production of which Lord 
Chelmsford, in the House of Lords, moved an address to 
Her Majesty on May 23rd, 1865, was a " Copy of Report 
made by Captain Cameron from Bogos in or about March 
18G3, and of the orders in consequence of such Report 
sent to him by the Consul-General in Egypt, or from the 
Foreign Office." To this part of the address no retui-n 
was made under Earl RusselFs Administration. The Re- 
port itself was, however, produced by Lord Stanley at the 
close of the last Session— though seemingly not in a 
perfect form, as Mr. Murray^s letter, dated August 13th, 
1863*, acknowledging its receipt, relates to matters which 
are not mentioned in the copy laid before Parliament. 

From Bogos Consul Cameron proceeded to Kassala, 
and thence to Kedarif, whence he addressed Earl Russell 
on May 20th, 1863, with a copy of his despatch to 
Consul-General Colquhoun at Alexandria of the same 
date, and several enclosures, bearing on the aggressions of 
the Egyptians on the Abyssinian frontier districts. In all 
* I'arl. I'ajxT, 1805^ 'Papers rdatinir to the Iniprisoiinicnt,' Sec, p. .'5. 


these communications both to Earl Russell and to Mr. 
Colqulioun, Ca2)tain Cameron, taking as his guide the con- 
duct of his predecessor Consul PloAvden, appears to have 
acted as the advocate and protector of the Christian Abys- 
sinians and in the interests of their sovereign the Em- 
peror Theodore — what he did being with the full concur- 
rence of that Sovereign, and indeed in concert with Samuel, 
the Emperor's favourite and representative. It is there- 
fore clear that there could have been no foundation for 
Earl RusselPs ill-advised allegation in his despatch to 
Colonel Stanton, that " the chief cause of the Emperor's 
anger with Consul Cameron was this journey to Bogos." 

His proceedings, however, incurred the displeasure of 
the British authorities both at home and in Egypt ; and 
the Government of that country did not scruple to charge 
the British Consul with having invaded the Egyptian ter- 
ritory at the head of an Abyssinian army. The subject 
formed at the time a topic of conversation among the 
European residents in Egypt; and I was assured by one 
of the best-informed of them, that, had the Viceroy, 
Ismail Pasha, insisted on it, our Consul would have been 

No doubt Egypt in 1863, under the able and energetic 
rule of Ismail Pasha, and with a crop of one hundred and 
fifty millions of pounds of cotton, was very different from 
Egypt in 1854 under Abbas Pasha, when the country was 
on the verge of ruin. Otherwise it does not seem that the 
conduct of Consul Cameron differs materially from that of 
Consul Plowden, for which, at the time, the latter ob- 
tained much credit. 

In his despatch to Consul -(General Colquhoun from 


Kedarif, dated May 20th, 1863, Consul Cameron says, with 
reference to his despatches of October 31st, 1862, from 
the Emperor's camp : — " It will give you an idea of the 
slowness with which my Government correspondence is 
carried on, when I state that I do not yet know whether 
those letters have reached England or not; yet I have 
received a packet from Massowah to-day/' On this, it 
may be remarked that, as those despatches did not reach 
London till February 12th, 1863, and were not even ac- 
knowledged (not to speak of their being replied to) by 
Earl Russell till April 22nd of the same year, some time 
had still to elapse before any answer could possibly be 

But in the packet which Consul Cameron received at 
Kedarif, there was (unless it had previously reached him) 
one despatch, with enclosui-es, from the Foreign Office, 
which requires particular notice. In order to understand 
the natiu'c of that despatch and its contents, it is neces- 
sary to relate rather a long story, going back several 

In the beginning of the year 1819, an application having 
been made to me from the Board of Trade for information 
respecting the commerce of Abyssinia, I had an inter- 
view with Sir Denis Le Marchant, then Secretary to the 
Board ; and, in consequence of what took place on the 
occasion, I, at his instance, addi'csscd to him a letter 
for the consideration of the President of the Board, Mr. 
Labouchere (now Lord Tiiuntoii), in whicli I suggested 
the establishment of a British factory on the edge of 
the high tableland of Abyssinia, behind Massowah. Sir 
Denis Le Marchant's reply, whilst according to my sug- 


gestion some degree of favour, stated that Mr. La- 
bouchere thought it desirable to see the Reports of Her 
Majesty's Consul in Abyssinia before forming a decided 
opinion on the subject *. Those Reports were laid before 
Parliament at the close of the Session of 1866 f, more 
than seventeen years after the President of the Board of 
Trade had expressed his intention to be guided by them 
when received. 

Unconscious of the existence of such Reports, as I be- 
lieve the officials of the Board of Trade likewise to have 
been, I addressed Sir James Emerson Tennent, the pre- 
sent Secretary to the Board, on November 3rd, 1862, 
calling attention to my letter of March 5tli, 1849, and 

* The following is the reply of the Secretary of the Board of 
Trade : — 

" Board of Trade, March 16, 1849. 

" Sib, — I am directed by the President of this Board to thank you 
for your letter of the 6th, which, as well as your letters to the Foreign 
Office, he has read with great interest. 

" That the establishment of a Factory, as you suggest, on the 
eastern edge of the tableland immediately above Massowah, might 
eventually be attended with advantageous residts to British com- 
merce, the facts adduced in your letter certainly go far to prove. On 
the other hand, the extreme insecurity of such an establishment, 
owing to the conflicting and fluctuating fortunes of the native chiefs 
in that part of Africa, renders the measure one of very doubtful 
policy ; and Mr. Labouchere thinks it desirable to see the Reports 
that may, from time to time, be expected from II. M. Consul in Abys- 
sinia, before he forms a decided opinion on the subject. 

" Li the meanwhile, he wishes you to be assured of his sense of the 
readiness with which you have given him the benefit of your re- 
searches in a country respecting which it is very difficult to obtain 
authentic information. 

" I have the honour to be, &c., 

" Charles T. Behe, Esq.'' " Denis Le Marchant." 

t Parliamentary Paper, 180G, ' Further Correspondence,' &c. p. 5 
et scq. 


also to two other comnmnicatioiis I had made to the 
Board — the one " On the Trade of Intertropical Africa/' 
addressed to Mr. Laboncherej President^ on January 27th, 
1852, and the other " On the Cultivation of Cotton in 
Taka and Northern Abyssinia," addressed to Lord Col- 
chester, Vice-President, on March 31st, 1852. And with 
reference to the contents of the latter of these tAvo com- 
munications, I remarked that the precarious condition 
of affairs in North America rendered what was there said 
rcsj)ecting Ethiopian cotton far more pertinent, and there- 
fore more cogent, at that time (1862) than it had been 
when written upwards of ten years previously. 

On November 27th and December 26th of the same 
year I again addressed the Secretary of the Board of 
Trade on matters connected with the same subject. 

On January 10th, 1863, the Secretary of the Board of 
Trade wrote to me in these terms : — " With reference to 
your letters of November 3rd and 27th, and 26th ultimo, 
respecting the expediency of adopting measures for the 
development of British commerce in Abyssinia, I am di- 
rected to inform you that your communications have been 
referred by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs for the report of Her Majesty's Consul at Mas- 
sowali." No allusion Avhatever was made to the previous 
reports of the late Consul Plowden, the existence of which, 
carefully put away in some pigeon-hole in Whitehall Gar- 
dens, I can only conclude to have been then as forgotten 
at the Foreign Office as it Avas unknown at the Board of 

The reference to Consul Cameron was made, as is evi- 
dent, at some time between December 26th, 1862, and 


January 10th, 1863; and the despatch from the Foreign 
Office, together with some of my original communications, 
which had been transmitted in it, reached him from Mas- 
sowah apparently on May 20th of the latter year, whilst 
he was at Kedarif ; and on the 25th of the same month, 
he accordingly wrote from that place that he was going 
to Matamma, ^'to see about cotton, and trade, and so 
forth." That he undertook the journey is, unfortunately 
as it has turned out, but too true; but whether he ever 
made any report on the subject, I cannot say : at all 
events, no such report had reached the Board of Trade 
as lately as July 12tli, 1866, as I learned on applying 
officially for information on the subject. 

Whilst Consul Cameron was thus absent in the north of 
Abyssinia, M. Lejean, who in 1860-61 had been charged 
with a mission from the French Government into the re- 
gions of the Upper Nile, in the course of which he had ; 
visited Abyssinia, and who had made an able report on the 
subject of his mission, now returned to that country with 
the appointment of Consul at Massowah, and charged 
with a special mission from the Emperor Napoleon to the 
Emperor Theodore, the professed object of which was the 
opening of a trade between France and Abyssinia. At 
his audience with the Abyssinian Monarch, M. Lejean <i^^'' 
presented a letter, which at the time was said to be an 
autograph of the Emperor Napoleon, but which was in 
fact signed by M. Thouvenel, then Minister for Foreign 
Affairs ; in which letter it is naively declared that the 
Emperor would never have countenanced the pretensions 
of Agau Negiisye in 1859^, had he been at all aware of 
* See page 58. 


his being a rebel. In token of his esteem, the Emperor 
sent by M. Lcjcan several valuable presents, and also 
offered to his Abyssinian Majesty the gratuitous services 
of M. Legard, an able French physician, who had accom- 
panied INI. Lcjean into Abyssinia. 

As the result of this audience, M. Lejean reported his 
expectation that French produce would be admitted into 
Abyssinia on payment of a moderate import duty, and 
! that Theodore was disposed to send an ambassador to 
\ France; which latter fact had, however, been already 
directly communicated to the Emperor Napoleon through 
M. Bardel. 

When M. Lejean arrived at Court, he found the Abys- 
sinian Monarch on the point of setting out on another 
campaign into the '^ revolted'^ province of Godjam, where 
Tadela Gwalu was again in arms, having fortified himself 
in the impregnable ai7iba or hill-fort of Djibella, near the 
great market of Baso, in the south of the peninsula ; and 
at the invitation or in compliance with the commands of 
his Abyssinian Majesty, the Consul of France accompanied 
the army, crossing, on the 11th of February 1863, the 
bridge over the Abai into the peninsula of Godjam. He 
has given a very interesting description of the march 
westwards, till he arrived within five hours of the source 
of the Abai, which, however, he was unable to visif^. 

In his account of the occurrences which have next to be 
related, M. Lejean says : — " I now enter upon a series of 
events which are the more delicate to narrate because I 

* My own two visits to this Source of tlic Nile are related in the 
'Journal of the Roval Geographical Society,' vol. \\\. pp. 12-14, 



had to perform a part in them that was not always 
voluntary. The reader will understand without difficulty 
the repugnance I entertain to dwell on these recollections, 
and the convenances which oblige me to allude to rather 
than to explain them/' It is only to be regretted that this 
sense of propriety, most suitable in a person occupying 
M. Lej can's official position, should not have induced him 
to refrain altogether from adverting to the circumstances 
in question, unless he felt himself at liberty to represent 
them in their true colours. 

On the 1st of March, a plot against the life of the Em- 
peror was discovered, and the conspirators were sum- 
marily punished — eighteen of them, in the Monarch's 
presence, having the right hand and the left foot cut oif 
(the ordinary punishment for high treason) , and being left 
to a lingering death or to be devoured by the hyaenas. 

On the following morning (March 2nd) M. Lejean says 
that, " on some absurd suspicions which he could never 
unravel, he was arrested by order of the Emperor and put 
in irons, as was also the Naib of Arkiko." According to 
other information, M. Lejean had provoked the Emperor 
by protesting against one of his judicial acts. The version 
given to myself, in a letter written from Gondar shortly 
after the event occurred, is, that, " weary with Abyssinian 
life and the still greater hardships of the campaign into the 
distant province of Godjam, he suddenly resolved on de- 
manding his conge. The Emperor, not being in a very 
placid humour, refused to receive his guest ; and the latter, 
with equal pertinacity, insisted on having an audience. 
This exasperated the monarch, and poor Lejean was put in 
chains, and for four-and-twentv hours had to meditate on 


this novel mode of euforeing court etiquette/' The follow- 
ing day he was liberated on parole, Debra Tabor being 
assigned to him as a residence, with liberty to move about 
at his free will Avithin a distance of 30 or 40 leagues. 
Towards the end of April, however, he was at Gondar, at 
liberty, but ahvays on parole. 

The Godjam campaign proved a failure, although in the 
French newspapers Theodore was reported to have been 
victorious. The Emperor returned home, after having 
caused his troops to devastate the districts within their 
reach, and to commit every sort of atrocity. 

In the month of June 1863 Captain Cameron found his 
Avay back to Gondar from his lengthened excursion in the 
north. His position was a most pitiable one. He had 
brought with him no answer from the Queen of England 
to the Emperor's letter of October 31st, 1862 ; but, from 
the greater proximity of India and apparently a greater 
alacrity there than at home in answering letters, he had 
already received a decided negative to the proposal made 
for a mission to be sent from Bombay. He had further 
been reprimanded by the Consul- General in Egj^pt (within 
whose jurisdiction the Consulate in Abyssinia had then 
recently been placed — apparently as a proof, like the with- 
drawal of British protection from the Abyssinians at Jeru- 
salem, that in future this Christian country was to be 
regarded as a dependency of Turkey, and its inhabitants as 
vassals of the Porte) for having taken on himself to 
submit such a ])roposal to the Indian Government direct, 
instead of sending it through his superior officer. His 
political proceedings in the Abyssinian province of Bogos 
— not his commercial visit to the Egyptian districts 


further to the west^ which lie had been ordered to make — 
had likewise been reproved by the Consul-General, 
and this long before the displeasure of Earl Russell him- 
self could be manifested to him. It would however 
seem that he had already received some communication 
from the Foreign Office, desiring him not to meddle in 
the affairs of Abyssinia, but to return forthwith to Mas- 

In the following month, July, the Emperor himself 
came to Gondar; and it was under the untoward cir- 
cumstances which have just been described that the 
British Consul met the Emperor of Abyssinia face to 
face. At his first audience that monarch put to him a 
series of point-blank questions, to which he was required 
to give straightforward and unequivocal answers. They 
were to this effect: — ''Where have you been since you 
parted from Samuel in Bogos ? " " Into the fi'ontier 
provinces of Soudan.^^ — ''What for?'^ "To see about 
cotton, and trade, and so forth. ^^ — " Who told you to 
go there ? " " The British Government.^^ — " Have you 
brought me an answer from the Queen of England ? " 
" No.^^ — " Why not ? " " Because I have not received 
any communication from the Government on the sub- 
ject." — " Why, then, do you come to me now ? '^ " To 
request permission to return to Massowah." — " What 
for?^^ "Because I have been ordered by the Govern- 
ment to go there." — " So," exclaimed the exasperated 
monarch, "your Queen can give you orders to go and 
visit my enemies the Turks, and then to return to Mas- 

* If I mistake not, Earl Russell wrote to Consul Cameron as early 
as June or July 1802, ordering him to leave Theodore alone. 


sowah ; but she cannot send a civil answer to my letter 
to her. You shall not leave me till that answer comes.^' 

That Consul Cameron's visit to the Egyptian cotton- 
growing districts, by order of Her Majesty's Government, 
was one of the main causes of the Emperor^s displeasure, 
is confirmed by the testimony of two persons who were in 
Abyssinia at the time. Mr. Stern says, '^ During his [the 
Emperor's] stay in our vicinity I heard several times that 
he was annoyed that Captain Cameron had not brought 
an answer to his letter to the British Government, and also 
for having gone round the frontier, and formed (as was 
falsely stated) prejudicial intimacies with his enemies the 

M. Lejean's version is, that Captain Cameron, when he 
left Godjam in November 18G2, had been accompanied by 
an agent of the Emperor*, no doubt a spy, whom the 
English Consul dismissed on quitting the Abyssinian 
territory, whereby he had given grievous offence. He had 
further made a long excursion into the cotton-districts of 
Sennar and Kalabat, for the purpose of inspecting them, 
with a view to the commercial interests of England ; and 
Theodore, not understanding how a diplomatic agent could 
be interested in commercial matters,-lKid imagined Captain 
Cameron to have gone to coneci't measures with his mortal 
enemies the Egyptians, and had treated him aecordinglyf. 

Earl Russell, in his despatch to Colonel Stanton of 
October 5th, 18G5, represents the matter in this distorted 
form : — " It appears, further, that the chief cause of the 
Emperor's anger with Consul Cameron luas this journey 

• Namely, Samuel. 

t ' Keviie des deux Moudes,' Dec. 1, 1804, p. 015. 

EARL Russell's despatch to colonel stanton. 95 

to Bogos, coupled with the Emperor's suspicion that 
Consul Cameron had intrigued to set the Turks and 
Egyptians of the frontier against him, and aggravated 
in some degree by the return of Consul Cameron to 
Gondar without any answer to the Emperor's letter to 
the Queen, 

" It appears from King Theodore's letter to Mr. Rassam, 
sent home by that gentleman in his letter of the 5th of 
September, that the King alleges that Captain Cameron 
' abused and denounced him as a murderer ' in conse- 
quence of the vengeance which he took on the persons 
who killed Consul Plowden and Mr. Bell, and that, when 
he had treated him well and asked him to make him (the 
King) a friend of the Queen, Captain Cameron ^went 
and stayed some time with the Turks, and returned to me 
(the King) ;' and further, that when the King spoke to 
Captain Cameron about the letter sent by him to the 
Queen, he said he had not received any intelligence con- 
cerning it. 

'' There is no reason to suppose that Consul Cameron 
incited the Egyptian forces on the frontier to commit 
aggressions on the territory of Abyssinia. It is far more 
probable that the enemies of the British name in Abys- 
sinia should have infused unjust suspicions into the mind 
of the Emperor. But certainly Captain Cameron, in 
going to Bogos, acted without orders, and incurred the 
displeasure of his own Government"*. 

It is to be expected that some inquiry will be made in 
Parliament as to the meaning and object of these repre- 
sentations of the late Secretary of State for Foreign 
* Pail. Paper, 1866, ' Further Correspondence,' &c., p. 63. 


Affairs. Bogos^ as we kiiow^ is a part of Abyssinia ; Con- 
sul Cameron's despatch from thence is dated " Bogos, 
Abyssinia, March 31^ 1863"^. He went thither in com- 
pany Avith Samuel on the Emperor^s business ; and though 
by so doing he undoubtedly " incurred the displeasiu'e of 
his own Government/' it is not possible — it is not true — 
that ''the cause of the Emperor's anger with Consul Ca- 
meron was this journey to Bogos." But into the Egyp- 
tian frontier provinces further ivest he went on the busi- 
ness of the British Government, and in pursuance of in- 
structions from Earl Russell himself ; and it was because 
he thus " went and stayed some time with the Turks/' 
that he laid himself open to the suspicions and incurred 
the displeasure of the Abyssinian monarch. 

Be all this as it may, it is now quite certain that from 
that time forward — July 1863, and it is most important 
to bear this early date in mind — Consul Cameron was no 
longer on the same friendly terms with the Emperor as he 
had been before quitting him on October 31st, 1862. 

The breach between them could not but be widened 
when Consul Cameron gave the Emperor to understand, 
as he would have felt himself bound to do, that the op- 
pressed Christian inhabitants of Bogos were to be left to 
the tender mercies of the Turks; for it would naturally 
have served to confirm Theodore's belief that Captain 
Cameron, when absent in Soudan, had been intriguing 
with his Mohammedan enemies ; whilst his knowledge 
of the friendly terms on which the French and English 
Consuls were together, and of the enormous commercial 
transactions between Egypt and England, would have led 
* Pari. Paper, 1806, ' Further Correspondence,' &c., p. 55. 

CONSUL Cameron's disgrace. — m. bardel's return. 97 

him to the not unreasonable conclusion, that, for the sake 
of Egypt and apparently at the instigation of France, he 
and the CImstians of Abyssinia were being betrayed and 
abandoned by the British Government and their repre- 
sentative. And he could only regard the refusal of the 
Government of Bombay to treat him as they had formerly 
treated the King of Shoa, now become his vassal, as an 
additional proof of this change of feeling and conduct to- 
wards him. 

This state of affairs continued till September 1863, 
when M. Bardel returned from Paris, bringing an answer 
from the Emperor Napoleon to the letter addressed to him 
by Theodore in October of the previous year *. 

As there are two versions of the contents of the letter 
from France and of the way in which it was received, it is 
proper to give them both. The first is that of M. Lejean. 
His statement is, that the Abyssinian monarch, ^' proud 
of this diplomatic success, called together at Gondar all 
the Europeans resident in Abyssinia, to be present when 
the Imperial message was read ;'' but, as he had already 
opened the letter and given it to be translated, its con- 
tents were soon known; '^ so that,^' says M. Lejean, 
" I could without indiscretion arrange beforehand with 
my British colleague and the most influential members 
of the little colony, as to our common action on the 
mind of the Emperor, in the sense of the instructions 
which I had received." As, however, the French Con- 
sul, according to his own showing, was at that time 
in positive disgrace and a prisoner on parole, and as 
the English Consul was likewise in disfavour, we may be 
* See page 81. 



able to estimate at its proper value this alleged ar- 

M. Lejean then states that the official letter from the 
Emperor Napoleon demanded^ in courteous but firm lan- 
guage, religious toleration for the Roman Catholic mis- 
sions protected by France. And he adds, " I must do 
justice to the missionaries of Basle, who, directed by the 
English Consul and Mr. Martin Flad, their principal 
leader, had been most ready to ofi'er me their assistance 
on this religious question, with a view to toleration, in 
accordance (as they justly said) with the spirit of en- 
lightened Protestantism." 

" But," continues M. Lejean (whose words are deserv- 
ing of being quoted in full), " all this diplomacy was en- 
tirely thrown away. The Emperor had been much irri- 
tated by the passage iu the letter relative to the Romish 
missions. ' I know,' said he, ' the tactics of European 
Governments when they wish to acquire possession of 
Oriental States. They first send missionaries, then con- 
suls to support the missionaries, then armies to sup- 
[)ort the consuls*. I am not a Rajah of Hindostan, 
to be humbugged in that fashion. I prefer having at 
once to do with the armies.' After a series of curious 
and characteristic scenes, Theodore replied to what he 
regarded as a provocation on the part of France, by 
an order of expulsion to her agent "f- This occurred, 

* This notion is so peculiarly French, that I cannot but suspect 
these words to have been put into Theodore's mouth by M. Lejean, like 
those respecting,' Queen Victoria and Earl llussell, cited in page 124. In 
my own inf(.rniant'8 report of what took place, there is no allusion to 
anything of the sort having been said by the Emperor. 

t 'Revue des deux Mondes,' (Dec. 1, 1804) p. ()12. 


according to M. Lejean, on the 28tli of September, 

I now proceed to give the version of another person, 
who was also present on the occasion, and who had no 
motive for misrepresenting or concealing anything that 

The letter brought by M. Bardel was not from the Em- 
peror Napoleon, but from M. Drouyn de Lhuys, the 
Minister of Foreign Aifairs, in his Imperial master's 
name ; and, after compliments in reply to Theodore's 
letter, the writer stated that the Emperor had especially 
commissioned him to say to his Abyssinian Majesty that 
he extended his protection to the Roman Catholic mis- 
sionaries all over the world ("dans tout I'univers"). 
Nothing therefore could be more agreeable to his Imperial 
Majesty than to learn that those clergymen were treated 
with the consideration Avhich was their due. All Govern- 
ments, continued the Minister, deserving of being called 
civilized, have accepted the principle of the freedom of 
religious worship, especially when the religion is a Chris- 
tian one. 

But now comes a part of the French Minister's letter, 
which les convenances did not permit the Consul of France 
even to allude to. " The Emperor has remarked," writes 
M. Drouyn de Lhuys to the Abyssinian Monarch, "the 
passage in your letter in Avhich you manifest warlike in- 
tentions. Before undertaking a war against powerful neigh- 
bours, it is right to calculate one's own strength, and to be 
careful not to place in jeopardy advantages already gained. 
His Majesty prays to God that He will inspire you with 
decisions suited to the interests of the people whom you 

H 2 


govern, and wlio, as a Cliristian people, are the objects of 
his especial sympathy." The letter finished with some 
general phrases, as to the French Emperor's willingness 
to form friendly and commercial relations with Abyssinia. 
There can be no doubt that the advice given in this 
letter was excellent ; only it is to be questioned whether 
it was offered by the proper person and in proper season. 
Theodore was at that moment inveterate against the 
Egyptians, and most anxious to go to war with them ; and 
having always regarded the French as their allies and 
abettors, the last person from whom he Avas likely to 
accept advice as to his conduct towards them was the Em- 
peror Napoleon. He consequently decided on resenting 
in a signal manner the insult which he considered himself 
to have received. 

13ut before taking this step, in order to manifest his 
feeling towards those persons Avhom the Emperor of the 
French had declared to be the special objects of his solici- 
tude, Theodore first sent for the Coptic Abiina, with Avhom 
he had been on bad terms for some time, and became tho- 
roughly reconciled with him — the one not less than the 
other being the bitter enemy of the Roman Catholics ; and 
the prelate, in his joy at the reconciliation, vowed he Avould 
have his throat cut before he allowed a single Romish 
missionary to enter the country. 

A week afterwards all the Europeans, seventeen in 
number, including the English and I>cnch Consuls, the 
Protestant missionaries, and the Emperor's European 
workmen, were summoned to witness what was to take 

Tliere was first a personal question between M. Lejean, 


as Consul of France, and the Frenchman Bardel, which 
was cut short by Theodore^s declaring the latter to he his 
envoy. His Majesty then stated publicly the following 
grounds of complaint against the Emperor Napoleon, and 
of dissatisfaction with his letter : — 

1st. The letter had no seal affixed to it, and therefore 
was no formal document. 

2nd. The answer to a letter written by himself to the 
Emperor Napoleon came, not from the Emperor in person, 
but from a servant [lolye) of his. 

3rd. The letter was, in point of fact, no answer to the 
contents of his (Theodore's) letter. 

4th. M. Bardel had not been treated with the respect 
due to an Envoy from the Emperor of Ethiopia. 

With a view to meet these objections, M. Lejean wished 
to show that he was the bearer of a more explicit and 
favourable answer, respecting the reception in Paris of an 
Abyssinian embassy; but Theodore would not listen to 
his explanation, as he said his present envoy (M. Bardel) 
had not been well received. 

The result " was that Theodore positively rejected the 
friendship of France, tore the French Minister's letter in 
pieces and trod it underfoot, and said that, if the quarrel 
between himself and the Emperor Napoleon had to be de- 
cided by the sword, there was a youth {gobaz) above^ who 
would fight for him^. 

* The celestial champion here appealed to is the Farasmya (Horse- 
man), as St. George is called — that saint being, as in the Greek 
Church, the especial patron of soldiers, and so much revered by 
the Abyssiuians that he is looked on as one of the Persons of their 
" Trinity." In an article on " Christianity among the Gallas," in the 


The French Consul and Dr. Legard were then peremp- 
torily ordered to quit the Emperor's dominions. Two 
days afterwards the two Frenchmen were furnished with a 
passport^ but without being allowed to take leave of his 
Majesty personally; and they immediately made the best 
of their way to the coast. M. Lejean himself acknow- 
ledges that he hastened to INIassowah before the news 
of his disgrace, spread along the road, should cause 
the local authorities to place obstacles in the way of his 
journey. He was likewise anxious, no doubt, to trans- 
mit the disagreeable news home with his own imprint 
on it. 

In the debate in the House of Commons onun Je 30th, 
1865, Mr. Layard said that, when the letter from the 
Emperor Napoleon was presented, the Emperor Theodore 
" quarrelled with the French Consul, threw him into 
prison, and loaded him with chains. He released him 
after five or six weeks, and then ignominiously expelled 
him from the country"*. The "one halfpenny-wortli of 
bread to this intolerable deal of sack " is the following 
anecdote related by M. Lejean himself: — As he and his 
colleague were breakfasting together on the morning of 
the former's expulsion, Cameron said to him laughingly^ 
" Well, my friend, are the chains of the Negus heavy ?" 
" Should you like to try them V asked Lejean in the same 
tone. " Well, who knows ?" was the reply of the un- 
fortunate Representative of Great Britain. But this con- 
versation referred to the occurrence in March previous. 

* British Magazine ' for June 1847, I have alluded to this and other 
eimilar eiTors. 
• ' Times,' July 1, 1866. 

consul's despatches stopped. SERVANT BEATEN. 103 

wheiij however, M. Lejean had been put in chains for 
only a few hours *. 

A few days after M. Lej can's departure, namely, on 
October 8th, 1863, Consul Cameron wrote thus from 
(jlondar to his family: — "The business of the French 
Consul is a disagreeable affair. I have kept myself aloof 
on the whole ; but I off*ered my services to the Consul, 
which he was generous enough not to accept, lest it might 
injure my own mission, especially as King Theodore has 
taken it into his head that I have been intriguing against 
him in Egypt. He is a fine fellow, but does not under- 
stand foreign politics or foreign manners. My own fate 
rests on the turn of a die. I am still waiting for answers 
to my letters of last year from the King's camp. If the 
King intercepts them Avhen they come, I suppose I shall 
be sent packing after my colleague.^' 

At that time, though the British Consul was a prisoner 
on parole, no hand had been laid on him or any of his 
people ; neither did he then ianticipate any act of violence. 
But the storm which had long been lowering, at length 
broke over his devoted head. 

A messenger, with letters sent by Captain Cameron, 
Avas stopped on the way from Gondar to Massowah by the 
Grovernor of the province of Woggera, who seized the 
letters and sent the messenger back to Gondar. Captain 
Cameron having complained to the Emperor of this out- 
rage, the latter took the messenger with him into Wog- 
gera, and sent him to the Governor to demand the letters 
back. He was told that they were lost ; and on his re- 
peating this to his Majesty, the latter (who by this time 
* See page 91. 


had doubtless become acquainted with the contents of the 
letters) replied^ " He has done you justice : give him (the 
servant) stripes into the bargain." 

The date of this occurrence, as far as I possess the 
means of fixing it, was the 15tli of October, 1863, at 
which time Consul Cameron had been for about three 
months under surveillance and prevented from quitting 
the comitry. It is not possible at the present moment to 
explain the specific motive for the stoppage of his letters, 
though it is most probable that Theodore wished to know 
how that officer had reported to the British Government 
the proceedings of the 28tli of September. 

It is however also very likely that by this time, 
(October 15th, 1863), Earl Russell's reply to Consul 
Cameron^s important communication from the Emperor's 
camp in Godjam of October 31st, 1862"^, had reached 
Abyssinia. In the return to the Address to the Crown 
on Lord Chelmsford's motion of May 22nd, 1865, that 
reply is given as having " arrived at Gondar about No- 
vember, 1863 ;" but there was ample time for its arrival 
at this earlier date, and my own impression is that it 
did so arrive. I therefore insert it here as in its 
proper place : — 

" Fureujn Office, April 22nd, IHGS. 

'' Sir, — With reference to your despatch of the 31st of 
October last, I have to state to you that it is not desirable 
for Her Majesty's Agents to meddle in the affairs of 
Abyssinia, and you would have done better had you re- 
turned to your post at Massowah when the King told 
you to do so. This it will hi; rii;ht that you should do at 
* See page 07 et sc/j. 

Theodore's letter to the queen ignored. 105 

once, and you will remain at Massowah until further 

"You will of course keep Her Majesty's Government 
fully and accurately informed of French proceedings in 

" I am, &c., 


It must not be forgotten that Consul Cameron's des- 
patch of October 31st, 18G2, contained the Emperor's letter 
to the Queen, which is thus contemptuously ignored al- 

If the fact be as I surmise, and if it should also prove 
to be the case that Earl Russell's despatches, like those 
of Consul Cameron himself, were intercepted, as he had 
anticipated, the whole matter becomes yet plainer and 
more intelligible. Indeed, it must continue to do so as 
additional facts are brought to light. 






It cannot but liave occurred to every one wlio has read 
thus far, if at all acquainted with the subject of the 
captivity of our countrymen in its ordinary form, that 
throughout the events narrated the Protestant mission- 
aries in Abyssinia, so long Consul Cameron^s companions 
in bonds, have not once been mentioned except inciden- 
tally. In fact, as far as the breach between the Emperor 
of Abyssinia and the representative of the British Go- 
vernment is concerned, those missionaries may be re- 
garded as not being at all in the country — as having no 
existence whatever ! And yet it has been repeatedly as- 
serted, and the popular belief notoriously is, that it was 
with one of those missionaries, the Rev. Henry A, Stern, 
that the Emperor was displeased in the first instance, 
and that, through Consul Cameron's generous though 


injudicious interference on his behalf, he himself fell into 
like disgrace; whilst, Ijy quitting his post at Massowah 
without orders, this officer incurred at the same time 
the displeasure of his own Government. 

From the preceding pages, it is manifest that there is 
not one word of truth in these statements, which, with 
many others, of an equally fabulous character"^, would 
seem to have been made and intentionally put into cir- 
culation, with no other object than to turn the eyes of 
Parliament and of the public in a direction diametrically 
opposed to the right one. 

Mr. Stern has told his own sad story of how his mis- 
fortunes commenced, in a letter to his wife, dated from 
Amba Magdala in April 1865, which was published about 
a twelvemonth ago among the ' Letters from the Captive 
Missionaries,' circulated by the Committee of the Abyssi- 
nian Captives Liberation Fund. 

The principal portions of that letter are reproduced in 
the Appendix to the present work, together with other 

* Among other absurd stories, the following was circulated in the 
French newspapers, and copied into some of the English ones : — 
" Letters from Abyssinia state that Theodore, Emperor of that country, 
has just crowned his imperial eccentricities by an act which exceeds 
them all in extravagance. Having learned of the widowhood of 
Queen Victoria, he has had a letter written to her offering her his 
hand. Mr. Cameron, the English consul, was charged to forward 
this missive to his Sovereign. The reply to so unforeseen an offer 
not being immediately forthcoming, the Emperor Theodore got angiy, 
and had Mr. Cameron put in chains until His Majesty should have 
obtained satisfaction for such a want of attention to him. On hear- 
ing of the imprisonment of Mr. Cameron, Her Britannic Majesty 
is said to have decided on replying by a polite refusal, the sending of 
which by post was more economic than a special mission to Abyssinia." 
See the ' Sun' of August 6th, 1864 ; and see also the 'Times' of Sep- 
tember 0th following. 


subsequent communications from Mr. Stern and his com- 
panion, Mr. Rosenthal. They give a detailed and con- 
nected narrative of the barbarous treatment to which 
they have been subjected, and they form a tale of horrors 
such as probably never was surpassed. Referring, then, 
to the letters of the two unfortunate missionaries, it 
remains for me to give merely a summary of the principal 
events, derived partly from Mr. Stern's statements, and 
more fully in some particulars from other authentic 

To render the history complete and intelligible, it will 
be necessary to go back to the epoch of the banishment of 
Msgr. de' Jacobis and his clergy by the newly crowned 
Emperor Theodore in the beginning of 1855, narrated in 
a former page *. 

By an extraordinary coincidence, on the very day on 
which the fugitives reached Halai on the frontiers, the 
Protestant missionary. Dr. Krapf, who had been expelled 
both from Tigre and fi'om Shoa, was a third time entering 
Abyssinia, accompanied by the Rev. Martin Flad, for the 
purpose of establishing a mission in that country, at the 
instance, under the auspices, and with the direct support 
of Bishop Gobat of Jerusalem. The moment of Dr. Krapf's 
arrival was most opportune, and permission was readily 
granted by the new Sovereign and the Abuna for the 
establishment of a mission, the first members of which 
arrived out in April 1856, being followed by others at a 
later date. This time, however, the missionaries M'crc not 
ordained priests, but lay handicraftsmen, who folloAved 
their usual vocations in conjunction with their missionary 
* See page .39. 


labours. These latter were however confined to reading, 
teaching, and distributing the Scriptures in the native 
languages, for which purpose they were supplied by 
tlie British and Foreign Bible Society with books and 
money to the amount of nearly ^€1000. 

Encouraged by the success which liad attended Bishop 
Gobat^s mission, the Rev. Henry A. Stern arrived in Abys- 
sinia in the early part of 1860, as the agent of the London 
Society- for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, for 
the purpose of establishing a mission among the Falashas 
or native Israelites ; and after obtaining the consent of 
the Emperor and the Abuna, he returned to England, to 
take measures for the extension of his mission. AVhilst 
at home, Mr. Stern prepared for publication a work en- 
titled ' Wanderings among the Falashas of Abyssinia,' 
giving a narrative of the events that had occurred during 
his first visit ; and after having been detained some time 
in London, in order that he might meet Consid Cameron, 
as has already been related *, he returned to Abyssinia, ac- 
companied by Mr. and INIrs. Rosenthal^ reaching the mis- 
sionary-station at Djenda in the early part of 1863. It is 
proper to add here, that Mr. Flad subsequently left Bishop 
Gobat's mission and joined that of the London Society. 

At a later date a Scottish mission was established in 
Abyssinia, the members of which were the Rev. Messrs. 
Steiger and Brandeis. 

Unfortunately certain differences arose between Mr. 

Stern and the members of Bishop Gobat's lay mission, of 

which differences Mr. Layard thus spoke in the House of 

Commons on June 30th, 1865 : — " Let me mention a fact 

>» * See page 69. 


of importance in relation to this question. There are in 
Abyssinia three missionary establishments^ and I am sorry 
to say that, as usual, they are intensely jealous of one 
another. These estal)lishments consist of a German mis- 
sion from Basle, a Protestant mission from this country, 
and a Freneli Propagandist mission. The Basle mis- 
sionaries hated the English with an intensity of which 
some conception may be formed from the amiable pages 
of the 'Standard^ — if anybody reads that paper — in which 
some letters on the subject have recently appeared. The 
Roman Catholics hated all the others. The King had 
no love for any of them, and said, ' I have nothing to 
do with preaching the Gospel ; but if you can be of any 
use to me, I shall be very glad that you should stay.' 
In consequence of this decision the members of the Basle 
mission were compelled to turn their attention to the 
manufacture of muskets; but, as they produced very 
bad weapons, they turned with better success to trading 
in brandy. Mr. Stern was allowed to deal with tlie 
Jews and Mahomedans, but was strictly prohibited from 
converting any of the native Abyssinians. The Roman 
Catholic mission was expelled the country "*. 

Comment from me on the tone and evident spirit of this 
statement is not called for ; neither is it requisite to in- 
quire how far the particulars of it are correct or not. All 
that may be affirmed — though no reader of my work will 
deem even this necessary — is, that whatever differences 
there may have been, their existence was not " a fact of 
importance in relation to the question^' of the Emperor's 
quarrel with Consul Cameron and the English; which 

• •Tiiiu-s." .lulv 1, IHC,.^,. . 


quarrel was, and is in truth, the real and only original ques- 
tion, whatever other questions may have been raised by the 
subsequent complication of affairs resulting from it. And 
even had "jealousies " or " hatreds " — to use Mr. Layard's 
expressions;;;— existed between the members of Bishop Go- 
bat's lay mission and the " English " missionaries, there 
is not the slightest reason for imagining that the Emperor 
would have troubled himself about such insignificant mat- 
ters, as long as he and the British Government continued 
to be good friends. 

For myself, I have never taken the trouble to investi- 
gate the subject, believing it to be altogether of secondary 
importance ; and so I have earnestly and invariably en- 
deavoured to persuade the friends of both parties in Eng- 
land with whom I have occasionally come in contact. As 
far, however, as I understand the question, Mr. Stern, on 
his first visit to Abyssinia, was led to form the opinion 
that the members of Bishop Gobat's lay mission were 
altogether too secular in their occupations, for that they 
led rather the lives of ordinary workmen in the Emperor's 
service than that of readers, teachers, and distributors of 
the Scriptures ; and I believe he wrote home to that effect. 
Inquiries were made and explanations given ; and when 
Mr. Stern arrived out a second time, in the beginning of 
1863, though at first there Avas not unnaturally some little 
coolness between him and Bishop Gobat's lay missionaries, 
still that soon passed over, and (unless I am misinformed) 
they have ever since been on friendly terms. 

It was in the beginning of April 1863, as already men- 
tioned, that Mr. Stern returned to Abyssinia and resumed 
his missionary labours, which, despite of obstacles, were sue- 


cessful and promising. In June, Captain Cameron arrived 
at tlie mission-station at Djenda, on his return from the 
north. In the following month the Emperor, who had 
been at some distance, also came quite accidentally into 
the neighbourhood. During his stay, Mr. ^tern heard 
several times that he was annoyed with Captain Cameron 
for the reasons already stated*; but Mr. Stern himself 
does not appear to have seen or had any communication 
with the Emperor, he having gone to \asit the Falashas 
in various districts, and having at the end of August set 
out for Armatjoho, a province to the north-west of the 
missionary station. 

On September 20th, Mr. Stern came back to Djenda, 
and on the evening of his return was summoned to 
Gondar, to hear the reading of the letter which M. 
Bardel had brought from the Emperor of the French. 
There was nothing personal in this summons, which was 
issued in common to all the Europeans in the country. 

The occurrences of that eventful day are already re- 
corded t- The immediate result is thus simply related 
by Mr. Stern : — " M. Lejean and M. Legard, a French 
physician, were peremptorily required to quit Abyssinia; 
and the rest returned to their respective homes." But 
he adds, significantly, '^ The crisis, which for some time 
had been looming in the distance, was now drawing 
nearer and nearer. All felt that there was something im- 
I)ending; but even the most timid dreaded nothing beyond 
the seizure of property and expulsion from the country." 

How completely this corresponds with the expressions 
ill Consul Cameron's letters written to his family on Oc- 
* See page 94, t See pages 97-] 01. 


tober 8tli, a few days after the two French agents had 
been expelled the country^. 

Up to the middle of October 1863, I am unable to trace 
any cause whatever for the Emperor's anger against the 
missionaries. On the contrary, they would seem to have 
enjoyed just as much of his favour as they required, the 
summit of their desires being that they might be allowed 
to pursue their labours unmolested. 

On the morning of October 15th, as has been already 
related f. Consul Cameron's messenger was beaten by 
order of the Emperor, who was then encamped in Wog- 
gera, near Gondar. In the afternoon of the same day 
Mr. Stern approached the camp, and stopped to pay 
his respects to the Emperor, as in duty bound. It was 
not till the evening that the Monarch left his tent and 
came into the open air, where Stern and his two servants 
had been waiting more than Uvo hours. The time was 
most inopportune, the Emperor having been at table. 
A fi'own was on his countenance : with the thought on 
his mind of what had taken j)lace in the morning, he 
was assuredly in no good humour with Englishmen or 
those belonging to them, and the merest trifle sufficed to 
drive him beyond all bounds. Mr. Stern's address to 
His Majesty appears to have been badly interpreted by 
the servants, and the Emperor became so angry that 
he ordered them to be beaten — probably with the very 
sticks with which the English Consul's messenger had 
been punished that same morning. Mr. Stern, under 
alarm and excitement, happened to bite his thumb — an 
action which in that country, as elsewhere, is considered 
* See page 101. f See page 103. 



a threat of revenge. The Emperor had not at first noticed 
this action; but his attention having been directed to 
it by some of his officers who were Stern's enemies^ the 
latter was likewise severely beaten. The two servants 
died the same night, from the efi'ects of their pvmishment. 

The British Consul, who was at Gondar a prisoner at 
large, sent immediately to Mr. Flad, requesting him to go 
to the Emperor with him as his interpreter. But Theo- 
dore refused to admit Captain Cameron to his presence, 
desiring him to say in writing what he had to say. He 
accordingly wrote to the Emperor a letter, in which he 
reminded him of the friendship that had so long subsisted 
between England and Abyssinia ; Avhereupon he was asked, 
" Where are the proofs of that friendship?'' 

The punishment which I\lr. Stern received was so se- 
vere that for some time his life was despaired of; and 
Mr. Flad obtained leave to visit him daily and take charge 
of his recovery. When his health was somewhat restored, 
Mr. Stern was taken to Gondar chained to a soldier. 
Here his papers were searched, but nothing criminatory 
was found among them; and as the Emperor's anger 
against him appears to have been only of a temporary 
nature — it being, in truth, founded on no specific cause 
of complaint — the monarch wrote, in the beginning of No- 
vember, to his European workmen at Gaffat, namely 
Bishop Gobat's Scripture readers, that he had tortured 
Stern long enough, and that, if they approved of it, they 
should come to Gondar and reconcile them, according to 
the Abyssinian usage when two parties have injured one 
another or are otherwise at variance. The form of this 
reconciliation woukl have been, that, after the mediator 


{astdraki) had admonished them to mutual forgiveness, 
Mr. Stern Avould have begged pardon for anything he 
might have done amiss, and the Emperor, on his side, 
would have begged Steru^s pardon for the wrong he had 
done him. I repeat, therefore, that this is a proof that 
at the beginning of November 1863, nearly four months 
after the Emperor had quarrelled with Consul Cameron, 
he had no serious cause of complaint against Stern ; 
whereas he continued on such unfriendly terms Avith the 
former, that, in the middle of October, he would neither 
admit him to his presence nor listen to his representa- 
tions in writing. 

Mr. Stern's prospects were thus looking bright and 
hopeful, when a most calamitous change took place. 
Under the belief that the persons and property of Euro- 
peans were inviolable, Mr. Stern had incautiously recorded, 
both in his manuscript note-book and in his printed 
work, of which he had taken a copy with him to Abys- 
sinia, facts and opinions more or less derogatory to the 
Emperor Theodore. During his illness, he had employed 
himself, as best he could, in erasing from his journals 
and other papers the offensive passages. But unfortu- 
nately he had mentioned their existence to M. Bardel, 
and that individual made known the fact to the Emperor. 

Mr. Stern, in alluding to this, says, " I know by whom, 
but will not, without positive proof, give the name.'^ Mr. 
Steiger is not so reserved, but expresses himself respecting 
M. Bardel in the following unmeasured terms : — " He had 
come to Abyssinia three years ago as Secretary to the 
English Consul, but had been sent to France with a letter 
to the Emperor Napoleon. When he returned from Paris 



with an official answer^ he brought at the same time a 
private commission from tlie Secretary of Foreign Af- 
fairs, M. Drouyn de Lhuys, and his Jesuit friends, to en- 
deavour by all means to destroy the Protestant missions 
in Abyssinia, and to plant Roman Catholic missionaries 
in their stead — the price for his endeavours being a Vice- 
consulship. He did his best to execute his commission, 
and did it with subtlety and ingenuity which is truly sur- 
prising, and which none but a Frenchman taught in 
a Jesuit school — I had almost said the DeviFs — could 
have learnt. But truly the foolishness of God is wiser 
than men, and the weakness of God stronger than men ; 
and w^onderfully has the saying been fulfilled, ' He that 
diggeth a 2)it for others, will surely fall into it himself.^ 
Through his own intrigues he has fallen ; for ere his work 
was completed his punishment came, and he is now^ in 
prison, chained, with Mr. Stern, whose fall he had so 
desperately striven to compass, "When he saw his plans 
frustrated, he confessed his wickedness to his companions, 
whose captivity he shares in the fortress of Magdala^^ *. 
This was written in December 1864 ; since w^hicli time 
much has to be related concerning M. BardeFs proceed- 
ings. "Without Avishing to anticipate what will best be 
told in its proper place, I will merely mention here that, 
on July 6th 1866, M. Bardel, who Avas then again in 
the Emperor's favour, had Mr. llassam. Consul Cameron, 
Mr, Stern, and the other European captives given into 
his charge, to be taken to prison at Amba Magdala. 

M. BardeFs denouncement would appear not to have 
been limited to Mr. Stern. The result of it Avas, that on 
* See the ' l!ecord' of September (!, 1805. 


November 13tli, 1863, a body of troops came to Djenda, 
seized most of the missionaries including Mrs. Flad, and, 
after binding them, conducted them to Gondar, treating 
them most ignominiously by the way. On the following 
day they reached the Emperor's camp, where heavier 
chains Avere laid on them ; and Mr. Rosenthal, who had 
previously been left at liberty, Avas also bound. 

All the Europeans in the country, the English Consul 
not excepted, were next made prisoners, their papers 
seized, and their goods confiscated. The prisoners were 
dragged into the presence of the Emperor, Avho, when he 
saw them, was actually red Avith anger. 

After some investigation the artisan missionaries were 
set at liberty, and their goods restored to them, the Em- 
peror sending for them, receiving them in the most friendly 
way, and calling them his children. The members of the 
Scottish mission were likewise released, there being no 
specific charge against any one but Stern, Rosenthal, and 
Mrs. Flad. MeanAvhile these latter were almost starved; 
and it was only Avith great difficulty that Mr. Flad con- 
trived to supply them Avith food. A day Avas now ap- 
pointed for their trial, at which Theodore said the other 
Europeans in the country should be their judges. 

On the 20th of November a court Avas held, to which 
all the Europeans Avere summoned. On an elevation 
sat the Emperor, and behind him, on an alga or couch, 
the Etjegye, or superior of the monks. On the ground 
beside the throne Avere Zander and Bardel — a German 
and a Frenchman ! In the middle of the open space sat 
the other Europeans in rows, and behind them the Abys- 
sinian grandees. Many thousand spectators formed a 


semicircle beyond them. The two prisoners, boimd by 
the arm, stood opposite the Monarch, both of them, and 
Stem especially, looking so sqnalid and "s^Tetched that 
it was pitiable to behold. 

Various charges were brought against the prisoners, 
one against Stern being that in his book he had called 
the execution of the rebels who had killed Messrs. 
Plowden and Bell a cold-blooded murder*. Another was 
tlie expression of the opinion that a war between Theodore 
and a foreign power would remove intolerance and intro- 
duce religious liberty. But the principal grievance ap- 
pears to have been Mr. Stern's publication in Europe 
of the fact that Theodore's mother was a poor woman, 
who sold kosso, the well-known anthelmintic, now of 
not unfrequent iise in Europe. The fact is notorious in 
Abyssinia ; and before Theodore came to his greatness he 
was not ashamed of his origin. An amusing anecdote is 
told of how, having conquered a chief of Ras All's army, 
who had promised to bring "the kosso-seller's son" dead 
or alive into the presence of the Ras's mother, Oizoro 
Menen, he invited him to dinner ; when, instead of mead, 
the ordinary beverage of the country, he placed before 
him a bottle containing an infusion of kosso, and thus ad- 
dressed him : — " I am, as you have truly said, only the 
son of a poor kosso-seller ; and as my mother has not dis- 
posed of anything to day, I am sure you wall not refuse 
her your custom ; " and he made him swallow the nau- 
seous draught to the very dregs. It is therefore unworthy 
of him to think of concealing his origin, and of claiming 

* The pa^;sa(re in Mr. Stern's worii where the C'xpret;sion occurs is 
given in a note to page 00. 


instead to be of the ancient royal family of Ethiopia — an 
idea, however, to which he now attaches the greatest im- 
portance, and which (according to Dr. Krapf) he is said 
to liave stated strongly in his late correspondence with 
the Emperor Napoleon, in order to outdo the latter in 
respect of genealogy ^. 

Mr. Rosenthal had also spoken ill of the Emperor, 
saying that it would be far better for the country to be 
nuder the rule of the Turks (Egyptians) than of Theo- 
dore; and as at that time two Turkish armies were re- 
ported to beadvancing against Abyssinia, supported by 
the French, it may well be understood how this must 
have exasperatedthe Emperor. It is proper to state 
what these two armies really were. 

One of them was that under Musa Pasha, an old and 
experienced officer, who had served under Ibrahim Pasha, 
and who arrived at Khartum during the summer of 1862, 
with 4000 regular troops and several rifled cannon. He 
passed the winter in exercising his troops, with the avowed 
intention of invading Abyssinia. In January 1863 he 
advanced slowly, at the head of a body of 10,000 or 
12,000 men in all, on Kalabat, of which district Ma- 
tamma is the capital, reaching it about the middle of 
the following month. He remained there only a few 
days, during which short time he devastated and com- 
pletely ruined the country, and he then returned to Khar- 
tum. Towards the end of the year, it was reported that 
he was about to undertake a campaign against Abys- 

* See ' Christian Work ' for December 1st, 1864. Theodore's pro- 
clamation given in pages 12;'5-127 may perhaps have some beariuu- on 
this correspondence with the Emperor of the Frencli. 


sinia; but there docs not appear to have been any foun- 
dation for the report. 

The other " army " consisted of a body of fifty or sixty 
drilled soldiers^ of various Eui'opean nations with several 
officers, under the command of Comte de Bisson, a 
French subject, formerly a general in the Neapolitan 
service, who arrived at Khartum towards the end of 1863, 
with the alleged intention of forming an agricultural 
colony in the debatable country of Bogos, rendered memo- 
rable by the visits of Consuls Plowden and Cameron in 
1854 and 1863^. M. de Bisson received at first every 
assistance from the Egyptian authorities, enlisted several 
hmidred Nubians, and Avas escorted from Kassalah as far 
as the district of Barea by a body of 200 Egyptian 
soldiers. But he having decided on remaining in Barea, 
where he began to form a permanent camp Avith the 
alleged object of protecting himself from the attacks of the 
natives, the Mudir of Taka sent 700 men to dislodge him 
and bring him back to Kassalah, whence he returned to 
Egypt about the middle of 1864 f- I am not acquainted 
witli his subsequent proceedings ; but I know that several 
of the members of his " French colony in Abyssinia" were 
in Tigre during the present year, 1866. 

Retui'ning now to the trial of the unfortunate mission- 
aries, it has to be related that, after they had been ex- 
amined, the Emperor caused to be read out a list of his 
victories, thirty in number, being fifteen before and fifteen 
after his accession to the throne ; next, a table setting out 
his alleged descent from Meiiilek, the son of King Solomon 

• See pages 25-29, 88-85. 

t See the 'Times' of August 30th, 1864. 


and the Queen of Slieba ; and lastly, that portion of the 
Fetha Negest (the Abyssinian code, founded on tliat of 
Justinian), by which death is made the penalty of reviling 
the Sovereign, this offence coming within the crimen loesce 
majestatis of the Roman law. 

The Emperor is said to have next called on the l^u- 
ropeans present, beginning with the English Consul, to 
declare whether the prisoners were guilty or not of the 
charges brought against them. They could only answer 
in the affirmative. He then asked the prisoners what 
they had to say against judgement being pronounced. 
This, in the opinion of some of the persons present, was 
the critical moment. They think that, had Mr. Stern and 
Mr. Rosenthal confessed their fault, expressed their con- 
trition, and asked for pardon, the other Europeans might 
have interceded for them, and they would most Hkely 
have been set at liberty ; but, instead of this, they tried 
to justify, or at least to extenuate, their conduct ; which 
prevented the others fi'om interfering, and only exaspe- 
rated the Emperor. If this really be the case, it only 
shows how entirely the Emperor^s anger with the mis- 
sionaries was of a casual and transient character, quite 
different from his feeling towards the Consul, which had 
a fixed and permanent cause. 

The monarch then consulted his grandees as to what 
should be done to the prisoners. Ras Hailu (the highest 
executive officer) advised that they should be put to death ; 
but the Waag-Shum (the highest territorial chief*) and 

* This is not Waag-shum Gobazye, but his cousin Taferri, on whom 
the Emperor has confeiTed the title, after having liilled Waag-Shum 
Gebra Medhin, Gobazye's father. 


others dissuaded him from it. The counsel of the latter 
prevailed, and the lives of the prisoners were spared, 
though they were still kept in close confinement. 

Mrs. Flad had also been arraigned for speaking dis- 
paragingly of the Emperor, l)ut Avas immediately pardoned 
out of regard for her husband. 

As if it were only to complicate matters and make them 
worse, two days after the trial of Messrs. Stern and 
Rosenthal (that is to say, on Sunday, November 22nd), 
a young Irishman, named Kerans, arrived at Gondar, 
bringing despatches from the Foreign Office to Consul 
Cameron, " with a kind of reprimand, and instructions to 
go to his post at Massowah." 

The despatch thus brought by Mr. Kerans may pos- 
sibly have been that from Earl Russell of April 22nd, 
1863, supposing it not to have arrived in October*, as 
I believe it did ; but it is more likely to have been the 
following one, dated August 13th, from Mr. Murray, 
Under Secretary of State for Foreign Aifaii's : — 

" I am directed by Earl Russell to acknowledge the 
receipt of your despatch of the 31st of March last t, sug- 
gesting that you should be formally authorized to pui'chase 
what you ma^ require, whenever possible, with the view of 
freeing yom-self from the interference of the King of Abys- 
sinia's officers. 

" In reply, I am to refer you to Lord Russell's despatch 
of the 22nd of April last, and to state to you that as you 
have been ordered to return to and remain at Massowah, 
your proposal need not be considered. 

'^ I am also to remind you, with reference to the 
* See page 104. t Naiuely, fi\jin JJof.'-os: see page 83. 


expressions ' Envoy ' and ' Mission/ wliich repeatedly 
occur in your despatch, tliat, as Her Majesty's Consul 
at Massowah, you hold no representative character in 

This last assertion renders necessary the remark that 
Captain Cameron, like his predecessor Mr. Plowden, was 
appointed "■ Her Majesty's Consul in Abyssinia " and 
gazetted as such'^ ; and he was expressly accredited to 
the Emperor Theodore by Earl Russell, in his letter to 
that monarch of February 20thj 1862t. 

There was no answer to the letter addressed by the 
Emperor to Queen Victoria more than a twelvemonth 
before J, either from the Queen herself or from Earl Rus- 
sell in Her Majesty's name; nor was that letter even 
alluded to in the despatches to the Consul. 

To repeat the words of a person who was present on the 
occasion : — " This was, at the moment, a most untoward 
event. The Consul had previously had his hands only half 
bound; they were now bound altogether. Theodore was 
angry, and not without cause. He had a right to expect 
a reply of some kind fi'om England, and a favourable 
answer would doubtless have put him in the best possible 
Immour ; for he desired above all things the friendship of 
England. But now," adds the reporter of these pro- 
ceedings, " it is most improbable that the Emperor will 
ever liberate the captives, or even let the Consul go free, 
unless the expected letters arrive." 

These occurrences have been repeated here as they 
were related by one who was present on the occasion. 
M. Lejean, who was not present (for he had left Gondar 

* See page Go. + See pages 67, 68. X See page 78. 


nearly two mouths previously '^) , gives a totally imagi- 
nary account of these proceedings. He says, in parti- 
cular, that the Emperor " was oft'euded at receiving from 
the Foreign Office a letter signed by Earl Russell, and not 
by the Queen herself. ' I wrote to Victoria/ said he, an- 
grily, ' and not to this INIister Russell {Aito Russell) , 
whom I don^t at all know.^ " 

But, as has long been known but too well, the fact is 
that no letter whatever was written to the Emperor either 
by Lord Russell or by the Queen ; so that it stands to 
reason he did not utter the words put into his mouth 
by M. Lejean. Consequently the latter has taken an 
unAvarrantable liberty ,Avith the names of both Her 
Majesty and her Minister; and it can scarcely be 
doubted that the words which he has had the assurance 
to apply to them are merely an adaptation of those 
which the Abyssinian monarch really did use on the pre- 
vious 28tli of September, with reference to the letter 
signed by the French minister f, which M. Bardel deli- 
vered : — "I ^vrote to Napoleon, and not to this Mister 
Drouyn de Lhuys, Avhom I don't know at all.^^ 

Strangely enough, Mr. Kerans brought with him, as 
a present to the Emperor, a carpet, on which were repre- 
sented a zouave attacking a lion, and behind the former a 
mounted European. Theodore at once interpreted this 
in the following fashion : — The lion was himself (the 
" Lion of Judah " being the arms of the Emperors of Ethi- 
opia, as the descendants of King Solomon) ; the zouave 
represented the Turks (Egyptians) attacking him; and 
the horseman was the French, backing up the Egyptians. 
* See page 102. t See pape 101. 

MOTIVE FOR Theodore's conduct. 125 

" But where/' exclaimed he, " are the English, to l)ack up 
the lion ? " 

There can be no doubt of this 1)eing his master passion, 
fostered, as it has been, by the friendship and material 
assistance of Consul Plowdcn and Mr. Bell ; and inasmuch 
as the former's partisanship had been authorized, or at 
the least permitted, during so many years by the British 
Government, the fact of Consul Cameron's being for- 
bidden to continue to follow his predecessor's example, 
especially after he had commenced doing so, could only 
be regarded as an act of hostility ; and the Emperor's con- 
duct towards all the Europeans resident in his country, 
being either Englishmen or persons under English protec- 
tion, was in the nature of reprisals. 

Probably about this time, and as would seem in con- 
sequence of the notoriety given to the fact of the low 
condition of the Emperor's mother, the monarch thought 
fit to issue a proclamation to his Abyssinian subjects 
and the Europeans within his country, of which the 
following is a translation : — 

" In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost, one God. 

" The King of Kings, Theodore, created by the Trinity 
its servant, installed by it and made Prince : to his children 
given to him by God and to all the Franks (Europeans) . 

" By your God and the God of your friend Theodore, 
who appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and in the Red 
Sea ; who appeared to Joshua at Jericho ; who through 
his servant Samuel anointed Saul when he was seeking 
the asses that were lost; who, when Saul turned from 
his Creator, commanded Samuel to anoint David. 


" Solomon was King after David, according to the word of 
the prophet and of his father, notwithstanding that Adonias 
[Adonijah], against the will of God, was proclaimed King 
by the people and obtained favoiu' in their sight. Solo- 
mon, by the Queen of Azyeb [the south-east] , begat Meni- 
lek, who became King of Ethiopia. From Menilek down 
to the dynasty of the Gallas, all the Kings were stage- 
players [azmdri*), who sought from God neither wisdom 
nor strength; but, with His help, the means of raising 
up the empire were found, when God chose me. His 
servant, to be King. 

" Mv countrymen said, ' the river is dried up, its bed 
is empty,' and they insulted me because my mother was 
poor, and called me the son of a beggar. But the Turks 
knew the greatness of my father, who made them his tri- 
butaries as far as the frontiers of Egypt and to the gates 
of their cities. My father and my mother descended from 
DaWd and from Solomon, and they are also of the seed of 
Abraham, the servant of God. 

" Now, those who insulted me with the name of a 
beggar's son, are themselves beggars aud beg for their 
daily bread. Without God's will neither wisdom nor 
power can save from ruin. Nevertheless, as God said 
unto Adam, ' in the sweat of thy face thou shalt cat 
bread/ it is necessary not to fall into slothfulness. But 
it is needless for me to give you this advdcc; for, as the 
proverb says, ' speak not of wisdom to the sage, neither 
cut the food of a lion.' 

'' There is nothing powerful in the world. Many have 
had mortars and cannons in abundance, and nevertheless 

* Literally " .sintjer.-f " or " minstrels." 


have succumbed. Napoleon had myriads of them, yet 
he died conquered, after having subjugated the Franks. 
Nicholas, Emperor of the Muscovites, possessed them in 
abundance, and he was vanquished by the French, the 
English, and the Turks, and died without having accom- 
phshed the desire of his heart. 

" If in your countries you meet with any partisans of the 
brigand Negiisye, who shall say, like the traitors of this 
country, that Ethiopia is governed by the son of a beggar ; 
wager Avith them a field covered with gold that I, the 
present Emperor, am on the throne of my fathers, Abra- 
ham and David, and bring them here to be confronted 
with me. 

" It is God ' that hath put down the mighty from their 
seats, and hath exalted them of low degree.^ " 

The only comment on this most singular document 
that is necessary is, that it completely disproves the 
supposition of Mr. Stern's having been in any way con- 
cerned in the original promulgation in Europe of the fact 
of the low condition of Theodore^s mother. Indeed, the 
allusion in it to Negiisye and his partisans in Europe — 
namely the French — who " like the traitors of this coun- 
try " had given currency to the report, might lead to the 
impression that this proclamation was of an earlier date 
than is here assigned to it. 




From the day of their trial until the 4th of December 
1863, the two wretched missionaries remained in suspense 
as to their final doom. On that day they were summoned 
before the Emperor, interrogated, stripped naked, and so 
conducted back to their prison. They heard afterwards 
tliat they had been in imminent pi'ril, for that the knives 
to cut oft' their hands and feet were actually lying close 
to the spot where they had stood ; and that they were 
only saved from this fate Ijy the intercession and energetic 
remonstrances of the Etjegye. 

A fortnight after this, an opening for tlicir liberation 
again presented itself. Mr. Flad was going to Europe, 
and it was proposed that Mr. Stern should furnish him 
" with letters to procure machines and one or two gun- 
powder makers" — much in the same way as he is now 
doing nearly two vcars later: and lu liis r(>tuni Mr. 


Stern would be allowed to leave the country loaded with 
favours. Whilst the negotiations with this object were in 
progress, Consul Cameron, unaware of what was going on, 
again applied for leave to go to his post at Massowah, 
in pui'suance of orders from the British Government. 
This once more proved fatal to the prospects of the pri- 
soners; and on January 4th, 1864, Captain Cameron, his 
European attendants, and all the missionaries, were put 
in fetters, and together with Stern and Rosenthal confined 
in one common prison within the royal enclosure. 

Mr. Steiger, a member of the Scottish Mission, reported 
to his Society at home that the cause of this his second 
imprisonment Avas not merely the English Consul's desire 
to leave the Court, without redeeming his promise to bring 
an answer to the Emperor's letter to the Queen, but the 
fact that at the same moment the head of the Abyssinian 
convent at Jerusalem arrived out there, and " told the 
King all that had happened at Jerusalem in connexion 
with the expulsion of the Abyssinians from their convent. 
He reported that the Coptic priests had endeavoured, with 
the aid of the Turkish Government, to appropriate the 
Abyssinian convent to themselves, that the Abyssinian 
Monks, of course, opposed this deed of wrong, upon which 
scenes of violence ensued, and bloodshed was only pre- 
vented by the interference of the English Bishop. The 
Bishop himself wrote to the King, informing him that he 
had repeatedly begged the assistance of the English Con- 
sul in trying to secui'c the rights of the Abyssinians, but 
that the Consul had declared such a measure impossible, 
as he had not received any instructions from his Govern- 
ment to protect the Abyssinians. This surprised and in-i- 


tated the King the more, as Mr. Finn, the former Englisli 
Consul, had previously assured him that he was commis- 
sioned by his Government to protect the Abyssinians^'^. 

In order to understand this statement, it is necessary 
to refer to what has already been recordedf respect- 
ing this subject, and also to cite -^vhat Earl Russell has 
stated in liis despatch to Colonel Stanton of October 5th, 
1865. When commenting on Lord Malmesbury^s answer 
to Bishop Gobat's application. Lord Russell expresses 
himself in the following singular terms : — " You will see 
that the Earl of Malmesbury distinctly refused ' to pro- 
tect officially the natives of Abyssinia who may chance to 
be residing in the territory of the Sublime Porte.' You 
will observe also that the good offices to be employed in 
their favour were intended for the benefit of those ' who 
might chance to be residing in the territory of the Sub- 
lime Porte.' Thus a distinction was made between those 
who might resort occasionally or casually to Jerusalem 
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem of Abyssinian origin, 
who might be accounted Turkish subjects." This is, 
however, a distinction without a difference. The Abyssi- 
nians at Jerusalem are all of one class, and they are 
all either Turkish subjects or they are not. 

His Lordship continues : — " Thus limited, both as to 
the extent of the protection to be afforded and as to the 
classes of persons on whose behalf good offices were to 
be exercised, the instructions of the Earl of Malmesbury 
must be allowed to have been proper and judicious. Ac- 
cordingly (continues his Lordship) I referred Consul 

* ' Record ' of Septi'inbtr Gtli, 18(Jo ; and see also the ' Times ' of 
Sept. 14tli. t 'See pages 7;}-7<J. 


Finn, on May 29th, 18G2, to those instructions of 1852, 
observing, ' I have nothing to add to those instructions, 
except to enjoin you to act u])oii them with caution and 
prudence/ " And his Lordship concludes this portion of 
his despatch with the words, " Those instructions remain 
still in force." 

But Earl Russell omittftd to add that on October 30th, 
1862, Consul Finn was removed from Jerusalem and sent 
to the Dardanelles, and Mr. Noel Moore was appointed 
Her Majesty^s Consul at Jerusalem in his stead. What 
the consequences were of this substitution of Mr. Moore 
for Mr. Finn have yet to be seen. 

In a letter published in the ' Times ' of September 
14th, 18G5, in which was given similar information to 
that reported by Mr. Steiger, I stated on good autho- 
rity that Mr. Moore, the new Consul, had expressed his 
inability to help the Abyssinians, on the ground of their 
being 7'urkish subjects. 

I added, and it is most important to repeat it here, that 
the poor Abyssinians being thus abandoned to the tender 
mercies of the Turks, the head of the convent was arbi- 
trarily tlirust into prison — not into the usual place of con- 
finement, but illegally into a dungeon in the Armenian 
convent, where he was kept upon bread and water. This 
lasted for many weeks, until, through European aid — in 
which it is only justice to Consul Moore to say that 
he had no hand — the poor man managed to escape 
disguised in European clothes, and found his way to his 
native country, arriving there at a moment when this in- 
telligence alone was wanting to fill the cup of the indig- 
nant monarch's wrath to overflowing. 


The other Abj-ssiuian residents, uhen their church and 
convent had been wi'ested from them, left Jerusalem in a 
body. Deprived of all their nation holds most dear, and 
deserted by the British Consul, in whose predecessor they 
had always found a friend, they addressed a memorial on 
the subject of their wrongs to " the INIost Noble Church 
in London," which the Archbishop of Canterbury laid 
before Convocation in the season of 1864, at the same 
time communicating the reply he had received from Earl 
Russell, to whom His Grace had submitted the same. 
That reply was to the effect that a letter had been sent 
to the Emperor of Abyssinia, and it was hoped in conse- 
quence that the persecution would be stopped *. 

It is not very intelligible how a Turkish persecution of 
the Christian Abyssinians at Jerusalem in the year 1863 
could be stopped by means of a letter written to their 
sovereign at Gondar, especially when that letter was not 
delivered till January 28th, 1866 ; and it can only be 
imagined there is some mistake in what is thus stated. 
At all events the position of the Abyssinians is not at 
all bettered, and they are as far as ever from obtaining 
the restitution of their church and convent. 

How the Emperor Theodore understood and regarded 
this conduct, says Mr. Steiger, "was soon visible in liis 
behaviour to Captain Cameron and to those of us who 
were connected ivith English societies. We were bound 
with chains, our goods confiscated, our houses in Djenda 
and Darna demolished, and the only reason assigned was 
our connexion tvith the English Consul and English so- 

' Sec the ' Times " of June 2.3rd, 18G4. 


Is anything further necessary to establish the fact 
that the ill-treatment of the unhappy missionaries of the 
London Society was a mere episode incidental to the 
main question, which was entirely between the Emperor 
Theodore and the British Government ? 

But there is another question arising out of that of the 
Abyssinian church and convent at Jerusalem, the solution 
of which may be yet more difficult than any other. In my 
letter of September l-lth, 1865, I stated, and it has just 
been repeated, that Consul Moore, when applied to by the 
Abyssinians, expressed his inability to protect them, on 
the ground of their being Turkish subjects. Now, it has 
to be inquired whether in saying this Mr. Moore ex- 
pressed the sentiments of the British Government. If so, 
our relations with Abyssinia, past, present, and future, 
reveal themselves in a light which, if not altogether new, 
is one in which they have never before been exhibited. 

It is a well-established fact, though it may not be gene- 
rally known, that the Ottoman Porte includes the whole 
of the Christian country of Abyssinia within its domi- 
nions. The Governor- General of Yemen, on his investi- 
ture, is named Pasha of Habesh among his other titles ; 
he, either directly or indirectly, delegates his authority 
over this province of the Turkish empire to the governor 
of Massowah ; and inasmuch as this latter, as Consul 
Plowden informs us, " must give some account of the 
twenty provinces supposed to be submitted to his au- 
thority, every few mouths he procures the signature of a 
number of people in Massowah to a paper setting forth 
that perfect order and tranquillity reign everywhere in 
the Sultan's extensive possessions in this part of the world. 


In a manner liithcrto believed to be peculiarly Chinese, 
this despatch is always sent when the neighbourhood is 
most disturbed, and when marked disorders have occurred 
in the town " *. 

As long as this continued to be the same mere form 
that it had been for three centuries past, England 
made no scruple in treating Abyssinia as a State, or 
collection of States, totally independent of Turkey; and 
hence she sent missions to that country, and entered 
into treaties with the rulers of it, or parts of it, in 
1810, in 1841, and in 1849 ; and whilst Massowah re- 
mained in the hands of a governor appointed, directly or 
indirectly, from Constantinople, this might have gone on 
unquestioned in any quarter. 

But during the last few years a very important change 
has been in course of preparation, and in 1865 is un- 
derstood to have been operated, though it was not acted 
on till the beginning of the present year. This change 
is no less than the transfer of the whole of the Turkish 
dominions along the western shores of the Red Sea from 
the Ottoman Porte to its powerful vassal, the Viceroy of 
Egypt. This cession is understood to have been made 
under a fixed rent, and for the term only of the life of the 
present Viceroy ; but it can hardly be anticipated that, 
after Egypt has been put into possession of a country so 
important to her on account of its lying between the sea 
and the extensive and valuable regions of Soudan in the 
interior of Africa, and has acted in virtue of that posses- 
sion, she will ever again be willing to relinquish it. 

Be this as it may, the occupation of those frontiers of 
* Parliaixifiitary I'apur, 18G0, 'FurlliurCorrospondt'Uce,' &c., p. 43. 


Abyssinia which lie nearest to Massowah and the coast 
lias not been delayed one moment on the part of Egypt. 
Towards the end of April of the present year Massowah 
was formally transferred from Tm*key to Egypt^ and, as 
I witnessed in person, a garrison of 800 men was placed 
in the island and on the mainland adjoining ; and since 
I left Abyssinia, I have heard that large bodies of troops 
Avere being assembled along the northern frontiers of 
Abyssinia, for the purpose of taking possession of some 
portion, at least, of the twenty provinces now submitted 
to the authority of living and energetic Egypt in the 
place of effete and dying Turkey. Ere this, I have little 
doubt, Bogos has been " annexed.^^ 

This transfer is generally understood to have been 
effectuated mainly through the instrumentality of Sir 
Henry Bulwer, late British Ambassador at Constanti- 
nople; and its object is said to be the more effectual 
prevention of the French from obtaining a footing any- 
where along the east coast of Africa within the Red Sea ; 
as they have already managed to secure one at Obokh, 
just outside the Straits of Babelmandeb*. 

If this really be the case — without at all touching the 
question of the policy or impolicy of the measure — we 
shall be better able to understand a number of facts 
which, regarded singly and independently, have not been 
very intelligible. In the first place, there are the length- 
ened negotiations with the Emperor Theodore for a treaty 
and an embassy to be sent by him through Egypt. Now, 
if Abyssinia is to be regarded as a dependency of Turkey 
or Egypt, England could no more receive an Ambassador 
* See paf^e G3. 


from her " Emperor/' than she coukl in 1862 welcome 
Said Pasha as an independent Sovereign. Secondly, 
England might, as she did in Consul Finn's time, tender 
her good offices on behalf of the oppressed Abyssinians at 
Jerusalem ; but, if Turkey insisted on her " rights," she 
w^ould be unable to protect them, or obtain for them the 
restoration of their church and convent, on the ground 
of their being Tui'kish subjects. Thirdly, our Consul's 
interference on behalf of the injured Christians of Bogos, 
which in 1854 was a commendable act, would in 1863 
have become an unwarrantable act of impertinence, draw- 
ing down on the offender's head the displeasure of his 
own Government, and even his absolute dismissal had the 
Government of Egypt insisted on it. And, lastly, the 
fact that the British Consulate in Abyssinia is no longer 
a separate one, but has been made subordinate to the 
Consulate General in Egypt, would only be a proof of 
our intention to regard Abyssinia no longer as an inde- 
pendent State. Under this view. Earl Russell's declara- 
tion in his memorable despatch to Consul-General Stanton 
receives a significance which it might not otherAvise pos- 
sess : — " It has seemed to the British Government a pre- 
ferable course to withdraw, as much as possible, from 
Abyssinian engagements, Abyssinian alliances, and Bri- 
tish interference in Abyssinia"*. 

Earl Bussell proceeds to say : — " This course, however, 
has not been taken without giving rise to groundless 
reproaches, many unfounded allegations, and some embar- 
rassing and painful occurrences. Of the former class is 

• Pari. Papers, 1866, ' Further Correspondence,' &c., p. 62. 


the following bold assertion, namely, 'There is reason 
for believing that the Emperor Theodore holds Captain 
Cameron as a hostage for the recognition by England, 
already made in 1849, of the independence of Abyssinia, 
for the suppression of Egyptian aggressions along the 
frontier, and for the restitution of the church and con- 
vent at Jerusalem, torn from him and his people by the 
Copts, Armenians, and Turks. ^ " 

When the further Papers connected with " The Abys- 
sinian Question,''^ which will have to be laid before Par- 
liament, are produced, I much fear that the boldness of 
this assertion will be found to consist in its truth. 

Resuming the narrative of events, it has next to be 
stated that on February 3rd, 1864, M. Bar del, who, since 
the trial of the missionaries in the previous November, had 
been absent from Gondar, returned to that city. He had 
been sent by the Emperor to Kassala with a party of horse- 
men, to inquire into the particulars of M. de Bisson's ex- 
pedition ^, and likewise apparently to ascertain how far 
Consul Cameron might have been impHcated in that un- 
dertaking and in the other hostile movements along the 
frontiers tj and he had subsequently gone away secretly 
to Khartum, under the pretence that he had escaped from 
the Emperor^s clutches, but in reality as his spy. As 
soon as M. Bardel had made liis report, the Emperor 
ordered his European workmen to come from Gaffat to 
attend a special council. This they did on February 5tli ; 
and after a lengthened conference they were sent to 
liberate Messrs. Flad, Steiger, Brandeis, Cornelius (since 

* See page 120. f See page 94 


dead), Essler^ and Scliillcr'^. The only prisoners left in 
chains were the British Consul and his attendants^ and 
the two London missionaries. Stern and Rosenthal. 
There Avas a talk of their being liberated likewise, if the 
Consul would pledge himself that the British Govern- 
ment would not insist on satisfaction for all that had 

A few days afterwards f M. Bardel, who since his return 
from his secret mission had been taken into high favour, 
and is understood to have presumed too much on it, 
was brought to the tent in which the English prisoners 
remained in chains, and added to their number — his 
offence being, as was publicly stated by the head jailer, 
that he had misrepresented the prisoners to the Em- 
peror, and caused him to chain them, that he had 
himself also spoken ill of the Emperor, and that he had 
further, by unfounded assertions, tried to prejudice him 
against the European workmen J at GafFat ; which last 
grievance the Emperor doubtless took to heart far more 
than the others, on account of his great regard for 

On the 14th of February all the artisans were ordered 
to return to GafFat, and the missionaries and others libe- 

* These last two are not missionaries. Mr. Layard styles tlicm 
"natural-history collectors," Mr. Stern "ornithologists." Cornelius 
was a colporteur of Mr. Stem's in Constantinople, and went out with 
him to Abyssinia in 1860 in the same capacity. 

t ]\Ir. Stem says, on February 4th ; but this must be an over- 

J They prefer to call themselves "Scripture readers." See Mr. 
Waldmeier's letter to Bishop Gobat, dated Korata, March 20, 1866, 
published in the 'Record ' of July 11, 1866. But they are generally 
styled by others " artisan or lay missionaries," or " European work- 

CONSUL Cameron's note. — dispute with the a buna. 139 

rated a few days previously were sent to work with them. 
On the same day Consul Cameron managed to write and 
dispatch to Massowah the following note in pencil : — 

" Gondar, February 14, 1864. 

"Myself, Stern, Rosenthal, Kerans, Bardel, andM'Kilvie 
are all in chains here. Flad, Steiger, Brandeis, and Cor- 
nelius sent to GafFat to work for the King. No release 
till a civil answer to King's letter arrives. Mrs. Flad, 
Mrs. Rosenthal and children, all of us well. Write this 
to Aden, and to Mrs. Stern, 16 Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

" To C. Speedy, Esq., Massoivah." 

From that time till May 12th the prisoners all remained 
in chains, with the exception of Mr. Rosenthal, whose 
shackles were taken off for a while because he had 
interpreted a text of Scripture to the satisfaction of the 
despotic and capricious Monarch — the monotony of their 
confinement being occasionally relieved by discussions on 
religious subjects (especially fasting), in which the Em- 
peror and his court aj)pear to have sometimes taken part. 

On the 12th of May — "a day which like one or two 
more will never be obliterated from my memory," writes 
poor Stern — a violent dispute took place between the 
Emperor and the Abuna. This dispute appears to have 
arisen, in part at least, out of certain money matters ; 
but the svibject is not at all clear, and I can only refer 
to what Mr. Stern has written about it in his letter 
printed in the Appendix. But it may not be immaterial 
to direct attention here to the statement of Mr. Stern 
on a previous occasion, that Samuel had said to him, 
" the Negus has heard your replies, and did he deem it 
expedient he could tell you a secret about England. But 


what does it matter ? time will reveal it." Whether this 
has any bearing on the present question, I cannot pre- 
tend to say ; but it is certain that there were money 
transactions with the mercenary Abiina which would not 
exactly bear the light. 

Nothing occurred immediately after this dispute and 
the interrogations that ensued on it. But about sunset 
— a most perilous time of day to have anything to do 
with Theodore — the Emperor came galloping over the 
plain to where the prisoners were ; and a scene of horror 
ensued which no one would venture to describe after the 
affecting narrative, from the pens of two of the chief 
sufferers, given in the Appendix. 

When the torture of the wretched prisoners was at 
length put a stop to, and they were left to themselves, 
infidelity, scepticism (which had frequently formed the 
stajile of their discussions) , sneers, and scoffs were now all 
merged in one deep and pathetic cry of anguish, fear, and 
despair; and in compliance with the request of some of his 
fellow sufferers, Mr. Stern, whose words I am here only 
repeating, poured forth the gushing emotions of his heart 
in a prayer in Avhich sorrow, sighing, trust, and confi- 
dence were sadly blended. 

In the midst of all this anguish and misery, there was 
yet the consolation, to the persecuted missionaries at 
least, that all they were enduring was not in vain, as the 
following touching incident Avill testify. 

Among the captives, though his name does not ap- 
pear in Consul Cameron^s note, is a Frenchman named 
Makercr. This person is a native of Alsace, of middle 
age, who has served in tlic army of Algiers, and went out 


to Abyssiuia in the ser\ice of our Consul. Makcrer, 
like most of his countrymen, was born in the Horn an 
Catholic faith, but appears never to have troubled him- 
self much about religion, except to become a confirmed 
infidel and scoffer. His reckless profanity was such as 
frequently to call forth a protest and a rebuke from Mrs. 
Flad, who, as well as her husband, also addressed to him 
occasional words of admonition and warning. For a long 
while all this was without any visible eflFect; but subse- 
quently to the removal of the captives to the Emperor^s 
camp, Makerer was observed to attend occasionally the 
morning and evening services which the missionaries re- 
gularly held in their tent. After this had gone on for 
some time, the soldier asked Mr. Flad to lend him a 
copy of the New Testament, Avhich he sedulously perused, 
becoming at the same time a constant attendant at di- 
vine service. On the departure of the captives for Amba 
Magdala, as will be mentioned in the next page, Makerer 
was especially recommended to the care of Messrs. Stern 
and Rosenthal by Mr. Flad, who himself kept up a cor- 
respondence with the convert, and sent him from time 
to time religious books and tracts. They had remained 
some considerable time in the fortress, when Makerer, 
who had continued his study of the Scriptures with in- 
creased diligence, begged of Mr. Stern a copy of the 
Bible in Amharic. This he studied so attentively and 
unremittingly, that in an almost incredibly short time 
he became able to read and explain it to the native 
soldiers who kept guard over him and the other pri- 
soners; and Mr. Flad, from whom this little anecdote 
has been obtained, expresses his firm conviction that the 


former profane swearer and reprobate has now become a 
repentant and consistent Christian^ and may, with God^s 
blessing, tm-n out to be a messenger for good to the 
ignorant and superstitious people among wiiom his lot 
has been cast. 

Returning to the suffering missionaries, it has to be 
related that on the night of May the 13th the torture 
was repeated. But it is useless to dwell on these atro- 
cities, the particulars of which are given in the distress- 
ine: narratives of Mr. Stern and Mr. Rosenthal. What 
they underwent passes all conception, and the only wonder 
is that they should have survived it all, especially when 
coupled with the great hardships and privations of every 
kind to which they were subjected dm'ing their lengthened 

The incessant tropical rains of 1864 were passed by 
the wretched captives in an old ragged tent ; but as soon 
as the season for campaigning approached, the Emperor, 
before leaving Begamider for Godjam to attack the in- 
domitable Tadela Gwalu, had them removed to Amba 
Maerdala. To reach that fortress, which was destined to 
be their prison for so many months, they were dragged 
two and two, chained together, across the country on 
mules, every moment in danger of pulling one another off 
their animals and breaking their necks ; and on arriving 
there they were huddled together with about two hun- 
dred persons of various ranks, ages, and sexes, charged 
with real or supposed crimes and variously chained, and 
crammed into a place about sixty feet in diameter. 

Magdala is an aitiba or hill-fort in Warrahcmano, the 
principal division of the country of the INIohammedan 


Wollo Gallas, who for the last few centuries have occupied 
the central and finest portion of Abyssinia. Its posi- 
tion is very incorrectly marked in the few maps in Avhich 
its name appears at all; and though it cannot be abso- 
lutely determined^ yet, from unpublished documents in 
my possession, I believe I am not far wrong in placing 
it in lat. 11° 30' N. and long. 39° 10' E. of Greenwich. 
Magdala is almost impregnable by nature, and since its 
acquisition by the Emperor Theodore it has been ren- 
dered completely so, it having been made by him his 
chief fortress, arsenal, and state prison ; and he is now 
connecting it with Debra Tabor, the former capital of 
Ras Ali, by means of a military road, constructed by 
his European workmen, over the lofty pass of Nefds 
Mdivatja (the " Portal of the Winds '') at an elevation 
of between 10,000 and 11,000 feet above the ocean. 

It may not be out of place to mention here that on this 
road, about halfway between Debra Tabor and Magdala, 
the Emperor has recently founded a new camp or capital^" 
at Zebit, in an extensive plain known as Zebit Myeda, 
at a short distance to the east of the mountain-range of 
Nefas Mawatja. In the beginning of the present year 
Zebit was taken possession of by Waagshum Gobazye, 
who remained there some time, placing the surrounding 
districts under contribution. Thinking to surprise his 
enemy, whose army was but small, Theodore performed 
one of his forced marches by night, for which he has 
become more famous than the celebrated Galla Chief 
Amora Easil (" Basil the Eagle ") of the time of the 

* Like the Roman Castrum, the Abyssinian Kdtama has this 
double meaninp:. The camp, made p(!rmanent, becomes a town. 


traveller Bnice. But Gobazyc, having through his spies 
had warning of Theodore^s approach, made a rapid retreat, 
first burning the Emperor's new capital to the ground. 

The following description of the place of confinement 
of the illfated victims of Theodore^s anger is given by 
Mr. Stern in a letter to his wife : — " As I am reminded 
of the approach of winter, I will give you a hasty 
sketch of the place where we and upwards of two hun- 
dred unhappy natives of all ranks and conditions may 
have to pass the ensuing inclement season of winter. 
Just picture to your imagination an isolated locality 
arising out of the midst of a jumble of conical hills, 
deep ravines, and serrated ridges, and you have Amba 
Magdala. On the summit there are clusters of thatched 
huts, occupied by about 1000 troops. Not far from the 
church, which you recognize by an apex surmounted by a 
glittering cross, you gaze on a mass of wretched hovels 
that stand in mocking contrast around four spacious 
circular dwellings ; you approach a few steps nearer, and 
you behold a strong thorn fence guarded by groups of 
sooty soldiers, close to whom lie basking in the sun bands 
of unfortunates loaded with galling fetters. This is the 
royal prison. 

" Those wretched huts outside tlie enclosui'c arc occu- 
pied by the elite of the prisoners dm'ing the day; but 
towards evening all must repair Avithin the fence, where, 
after being counted, they are driven like Avild beasts 
Avithin the reeking walls of those conically shaped struc- 
tures. Insects, and all that is repulsive of whatever 
name or colour, swarm in these jails ; and really, if 
Providence had not tempered human nature so as to 


render it capable of enduring every hardship, I believe 
even few Abyssinians would long resist the fatal in- 
fluence of this poisonous atmosphere. By special favour 
we are allowed to make our abode close to the walls 
of one of these houses ; and there, under a black wool- 
len awning, Captain Cameron, Rosenthal, Makerer, and 
myself pass the day and night, and the rest, who have 
huts outside, only the night/' 

Until the 1st of July, 1865, the prisoners' feet alone 
were fettered ; but on that day the heir to the throne of 
Shoa having unexpectedly quitted the Emperor's camp, 
the enraged monarch vented his spite on his prisoners, 
hoih native and European. All the Mohammedan Gallas 
had their hands and feet hacked off, and their mutilated 
bodies were then hurled down the precipitous side of the 
amba. The Christian prisoners had hand-chains added 
to those already round their ankles, the two being so 
fastened together that the wearers were bent double, and 
thus rendered unable to move about by day or to stretch 
their Aveaiy limbs by night. 

In this wretched state of torture they continued till the 
25th of February, 1866, when the joyful news reached 
them of the arrival of Mr. Rassam at the Emperor's camp, 
and the order in consequence given for their liberation. 

This news was communicated to me by Captain Came- 
ron in the following letter, which reached me at Halai on 
the 4th of April : — 

'' Magdala Prison, February 26th, 1866. 

" My dear Beke, — I saw in a fragment of the ' Times ' 
yesterday that you had volunteered to come to this country 
to try and effect our liberation. 



" I thank you most sincerely, and beg that you will be 
good enough to inform such of our well-wishers as may be 
within your reach that owe chains were taken off yesterday, 
and that we are all to be given over to Mr. Rassam. I 
write tliis in secret and in haste, but will let you know 
further hereafter how we are getting on. God bless you ; 
and with kind regards to Mrs. Beke, believe me, 
" Yours sincerely, 


The gratifying intelligence of the release of the cap- 
tives reached England on April 23rd, in a despatch from 
Colonel Merewether, Resident at Aden, to the Earl of 
Clarendon, then Secretary of State for Foreign AflFairs, 
which was read by his Lordship in the House of Lords 
in the evening of the same day, and on the following 
morning appeared in all the newspapers. 

From this point the history of the capti^^ty coincides 
with that of the measures adopted for the liberation of 
the prisoners. It is therefore here the place to take u]) 
the narrative of those measures from the commencement. 
This will be done in the next Chapter. 



emperor's anger — REFUSES TO NOTICE IHM — SPIES SENT — 

The first intelligence of Captain Cameron^s disgrace and 
detention^ if not actual imprisonment, in July 1863, as nar- 
rated in a previous page *, reached Europe in this form, as 
given in the ' Standard ' newspaper of December ISthf: — 
^' The Paris papers of this evening publish advices from 
Egypt, annouficing the victory of the Emperor Theodore 
of Abyssinia over the population of Godjam. The Emperor 
is reported to have ordered the massacre of 15,000 pri- 
soners, men, women, and children. He is also stated to 
have had the English Consul at Massowah arrested, and to 
have set the French Consul at liberty .'' 

* Page 93. 

t Copied from the evening edition of the ' Patrie ' of December 



It is highly deserving of notice that Captain Cameron's 
arrest was thus publicly announced in France and in 
England, as long ago as December ISth, 18G3. No one at 
the time paid any attention to it ; for nobody could believe 
it, the favour in m Inch the British Consul had stood being 
a matter of such notoriety. 

It would appear, however, fi'om a few words dropped by 
the Earl of Clarendon in the debate in the House of Lords 
on February 9th, 1866, that the news had reached the Fo- 
reign Office at that early date. His Lordship's words 
^vere, " The first we heard, not of the imprisonment, but 
the detention of Consul Cameron, came by rumour through 
l"]gypt""^. But whatever may have been known at head 
quarters Avas not divulged ; and it was not till March 
IGtli, 1861, exactly three months afterwards, that the 
London Society for the Promotion of Christianity among 
the Jews received the distressing intelligence respecting 
their missionaries, which had been brought from Abyssinia 
to Khartum by Mr. Hausmann, an agent of the Basle 
Society, w ho had been allowed to leave the country. On 
communicating these tidings to the Foreign Office, the 
London Society learned that Her Majesty's Government 
had already received similar intelligence t, and that 
orders had been sent to the Consul-General in Egypt 
"to open up commimications with Abyssinia":}:. What 
measures Avcre adopted by the Consul-General in con- 

• ' Times,' February 10, 1806. 

t Intelligence of Captain Cameron's captivity had reached me 
several days previously, and I wrote to Viscount Palnierston and 
Earl Russf'll on tlio ISth and IHtli of IMarch, offering- my services to 
effect his liberation and that of the other captives. 

\ See ' Jewish Intelligence ' for May Ist, 18G4. 


sequence of these instructions have not, liowcvcr, ])ccn 
made public. 

At the Anniversary Meeting of the London Society, 
held in Exeter Hall on May 6th of that year, the Pre- 
sident, Lord Shaftesbury, stated that, ''with a view to 
the liberation of Mr. Stern, he had transmitted to Lord 
Hussell a letter from Mrs. Stern, addressed to the Queen, 
praying (and his Lordship added that he had joined in 
the prayer to Lord Russell) that Her Majesty might be 
induced, by letter under the sign manual, written by 
the Queen herself, to intercede with the King of Abys- 
sinia to have mercy on hini^' ■^. 

However, on the following day (May 7th), Earl Russell 
wrote to Lord Shaftesbury, saying that " after much con- 
sideration he had come to the conclusion that he ought not 
to advise the Queen to ivrite to the King of Abyssinia ; but 
he gave the assurance that every possible means should 
be used to obtain the release of Mr. Stern and his fellow- 
prisoners "t- Mrs. Stern^s petition to the Queen was 
accordingly returned by Earl Russell unpresented. 

Allusion ha^dng thus been made to the London Society, 
whose missionaries Messrs. Stern and Rosenthal are, 
it is here the fitting place to mention that all active 
measures on the part of that Society for the liberation of 
their missionaries ceased with the transmission, by the 
Earl of Shaftesbury to Earl Russell, of Mrs. Stern^s pe- 
tition to the Queen. 

That the Society generally, and their executive officers 
individually, have felt, and still continue to feel, deeply 

* See the ' Record ' of May Otli, 1864. 

t See ' Jewish Intelligence ' for December 1st, 1865, p. 296. 


interested in the issue of the proceedings cannot for one 
moment be doubted ; and that the latter^ in the name of 
the Society, have made repeated applications at the Fo- 
reign Office for information is also certain. But it is not 
less certain that all separate exertions for the liberation 
of their own missionaries have been not merely suspended, 
but discountenanced, their course of action being con- 
trolled by the determination that, " the conduct of the 
Emperor being based upon political considerations, with 
which our Government only could deal, they ought not 
to interfere by any independent action, so long as the 
Government were making any reasonable efforts to ac- 
complish the liberation of the captives ^^*. The result of 
this determination, which was reiterated and confirmed, 
after much deliberation, by a resolution of the General 
Committee at a Special Meeting on November 3rd, 1865 f, 
was, in effect, to abandon their missionaries to the Govern- 
ment, through whose fault (as is virtually admitted) they 
had been placed in so dreadful a position, and to their 
agent, Mr. Rassam, an object of whose mission was (as 
Avill be clearly shown in the sequel) to exonerate that 
Government at all risks — even at the expense of the un- 
fortunate missionaries themselves — quite as much as it 
was to accomplish their liberation. 

I would not for a moment think of harbouring a doubt 
as to the conviction of all parties concerned that the 
course they adopted was the right one. But it was a 
most mistaken one, nevertheless. It has, I apprehend, 
been convincingly established % that the Emperor Theo- 

* 'Jewish Iiilelligeuce,' December 1, 18G5, p. 294. 
t Ihid. p. 2'JO. X See page 113. 


dore had originally no special motive for visiting the mis- 
sionaries — even Mr. Stern — with the consequences of his 
extreme displeasure ; it has likewise been shown * that, on 
more than one occasion, he was prepared to forgive them. 
It appears further, from the statement of Mr. Waldmeier, 
one of Bishop Gobat's lay missionaries, published in the 
' Record^ of July 1st, 1866, that the petition sent by me 
from Massowah from the relatives of the captives " deeply 
moved the heart of the Emperor,^' that portion of it from 
Mr. Stern's family being '' written in very good terms, 
and exceedingly touching'^f; and I have been assured 
that, had Captain Cameron's name been left out and the 
petition limited to the families of all the captives except 
his own, its prayer would have been granted and all the 
other captives sent away at once. For the Emperor is 
conscious, as everybody else now is, that the quarrel was 
and still is solely between him and the British Govern- 
ment ; and the representative of that Government is even 
now detained a prisoner until satisfaction is obtained for 
his grievances. Such, indeed, is the meaning of his words 
to Mr. Rassam in July 1866, when making him and the 
members of his suite prisoners with the rest, and send- 
ing them in charge of M. Bardel to Amba Magdala : — 
" You are a sweet-mouthed gentleman, Mr. Rassam ; 
but those above you are my enemies." 

It can therefore hardly be doubted that independent 
action on the part of the Society would long ago 

* See pages 114, 128 and 138 : see also the Appendix. 

t Mr. Waldmeier speaks of several petitions ; but there was one 
only from the relatives of all the captives jointly and severally. It 
was accompanied by a letter from mjself individually. Both petition 
and letter, with the Emperor's answer, are given in the Appendix. 


have saved their missionaries; though at the same time 
its success would have too plainly shown to the world 
where the real fault lay. 

So gi'eat, however, has been the scrupulousness of the 
Committee of the London Society and their Noble Pre- 
sident, that not only have they refrained from all inde- 
pendent action, but they have even deprecated every ex- 
pression of individual feeling or opinion on the subject. 
Hence it is that, at the last Anniversary IMeeting of the 
Society in Exeter HaU, on May 3rd, 1866, Lord Shaftes- 
bury said, " I hope that in the course of the discussions of 
this day nothing will be said in reference to that great 
African potentate, the Emperor of Abyssinia. A hasty 
word incautiously spoken was the cause, as I believe, of 
all the troubles that were subsequently brought upon the 
missionaries ; and therefore I trust that nothing will now 
be said on that subject. Strange as it may appear, it 
shows what is called the growing civilization of the world, 
that the remote Emperor of Abyssinia has as many agents 
ill this country to pick up and to give him information as 
the Emperor of Austria or the Emperor of Russia ; and 
therefore our language should be discreet, and our words 
wary and few " ■^. 

At the time when these words were uttered by the noble 
President, whom I would not do the injustice to regard 
as anything but the mouthpiece of others, news had just 
been received that the captives vrere released from their 
chains, and were expected to start shortly on their 
journey homewards; and the Meeting was accordingly 
called on to express its gratitude to Earl Russell and "the 
* 'Jewish Intelligence,' Juno 1, 18GG, p. 122. 

WHY Theodore's letter was not answered. 153 

(late) Government of this country for tlie very prompt 
measures which they took for the release of the poor 

The sentiments thus expressed as lately as May 3rd, 
1866, might almost be regarded as ironical; because 
it is certain, from the explicit declaration of Earl Rus- 
sell to the Earl of Shaftesbury on May 7th, 1864* — 
just two years before — that Her Majesty's Government 
had no intention to give a " prompt " or any other reply to 
the Emperor's letter, and that, had the^^ not been forced 
to do so, they would never have noticed it. It is with 
this certainty, however, that we now find Mr. Layard's 
statement in the House of Commons, on June 30th, 
1865, to be much nearer the literal truth than most, per- 
sons were inclined to believe it to be at the time it was 
made. His words were, " A great deal has been said 
as to no answer having been sent t© the letter to the 
Queen f. I will ask any impartial person — knowing that 
that letter originated after a distinct understanding with 
the King that Her Majesty's Government would not 
receive a mission until he had given up all idea of con- 
quest upon Turkey, — after rejecting a treaty which au- 
thorized him to send a mission to England, — whether any 
person would have thought it necessary to answer that 
letter at all ? I can only say that even now, after what 
has passed, if the letter were put into my hands, I should 
say it did not requii*e an answer. The first letter of 
the King had been answered J ; and we did not wish 
that Consul Cameron should come home on a mission. 

* See page 149. t The letter is given in page 78. 

\ Earl Russell's answer will be found in page 67. 


Having no wish to answer that letter, we sent it to the 
India Office, to know whether they wished to answer it. 
Not a bit of it ; they did not think it necessary that a 
mission should be sent to this country, the object of 
which was to get us to go to war with Turkey "*. 

Nevertheless, a few days only after Earl Russell had 
informed the Earl of Shaftesbury that he had advised 
Her Majesty not to write to the Emperor Theodore 
— namely, on May 25th, 18G4, — the note from Consul 
Cameron of February 14th of that year, given in page 138, 
reached London, was inserted in all the newspapers, and 
filled everybody with amazement — the officials at the 
Foreign and India Offices, if I am rightly informed, quite 
as rnuch as others. Of course an investigation was in- 
stantly set on foot : the Emperor's letter, which had been 
altogether lost sight of, if not actually mislaid, was looked 
up; and on the Sijd of the following month (June), in 
answer to the inquiry of Mr. Henry D. Seymour in the 
House of Commons, Mr. Layard said that " Her Majesty^s 
Government would of course do all they possibly could to 
obtain the release of Captain Cameron and the mis- 
sionaries. The most natural step would be to send some 
person there to demand their release; but Her Majesty's 
Government were rather afraid that he would share the 
same fate as the Consul and the missionaries. The ques- 
tion was how to get at the King, without endangering the 
liberty of others. He trusted, however, that means would 
soon be found of communicatmg Avith the King, and the 
sul)jcct was under the serious consideration of the noble 
Lord at the head of the Foreign Office "f. 

* ' Times/ July 1, IbUo. t ' IStuiidard,' Juiif 4, 18G4. 

queen's letter to THEODORE. MR. RASSAm's MISSION. 155 

The promised serious consideration having been given 
to the subject, it was decided that the previous deter- 
mination of both the Foreign and the India Office should 
be rescinded, and that after all the Secretary of State 
for Foreign Affairs ought to advise Her Majesty to write 
a civil answer to the Emperor's letter of October 31st, 
1862, which had remained unnoticed for more than 
fifteen months since its receipt by Her Majesty's Go- 
vernment. Accordingly, towards the end of June 1864, 
a reply from the Queen, under the Sign Manual, was 
addressed to His Majesty, and letters were also pro- 
cm^ed from the Coptic Patriarch at Cairo, both to that 
monarch and to the Abuna. 

The Queen's letter was sent out to Egypt to have an 
Arabic translation made to accompany it, but was thence 
sent back to England to receive certain modifications 
suggested by (or to) the Consul -General there. This 
caused some delay; but at length the letter with its 
translation, and those from the Coptic Patriarch, were 
transmitted to Aden for delivery to the Emperor Theo- 

The duty of delivering these letters was entrusted to 
Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, who is well known from his 
connexion with Mr. Layard at Nineveh, and who for 
several years past has been an Assistant to the Political 
Resident at Aden. 

As serious objections have been made on various oc- 
casions, both in and out of Parliament, to the choice of 
Mr. Rassam to be the bearer of the Queen's letter, and 
to negotiate for the liberation of the British Consul and 
the other European captives, it is only just to him to 


state tlic precise relation in wliich he stood to Mr. Layard, 
and also to reproduce the testimonial in liis favour given 
Ly Sir William Coghlan. 

As regards tlie former, Mr. Layard makes the follow- 
ing: statement in his well-known work : — " Mr. Hormuzd 
llassam, the brother of the British Vice-Consul, came to 
reside with me, and undertook the daily payment of the 
workmen and the domestic arrangements " *. 

Sir William Coghlan's testimonial, as read by Mr. 
Layard in the House of Commons during the debate on 
June 30th, 1865, when nearly a twelvemonth had elapsed 
without any good having resulted from Mr. Rassam's 
mission, was in the following terms : — " Mr. Rassam^s 
antecedents, his status, and his qualifications are greatly 
misunderstood and misrepresented by a portion of the 
press of this country. He has been variously styled Le- 
A'antine, Greek, obscure Armenian, Turkish subject, non- 
descript, &c. In answer to these assertions it is but just 
to a very deserving public servant to say what Mr. Ras- 
sam really is. He was born at Mosul, of Christian pa- 
rents (his brother is British Vice-Consul there) ; he re- 
ceived his education in England; he is a gentleman in 
manners and conduct ; and his qualifications for the pecu- 
liar line in wliich he has been employed during the last 
ten years cannot be surpassed. I speak with confidence 
on tliis point ; for ]\Ir. llassara was my assistant at Aden 
during many years of trouble ; a part of that time he held 
charge of our political relations at Muscat, and acquitted 
himself to the entire approval of the Government which 
placed him there. In short, Mr. Rassam^s whole previous 
* ' Nineveli,' vol. i. p. 54. 


career well justified the expectation which Her Majesty's 
Government entertained in appointing him to the delicate 
and difficult mission on which he is now employed. The 
disappointment of that expectation is not attributable to 
any fault of his " *. 

The instructions from Earl Russell to Mr. Rassam were 
to the effect that he should demand the release of Consul 
Cameron; but, inasmuch as Her Majesty's Government 
had no right to make authoritative demands on foreign 
powers in favour of any not British subjects, Mr. Rassam 
was cautioned against making his request on behalf of 
foreigners in an authoritative manner, such as he would be 
entitled to do on behalf of subjects of Her Majesty. 
Of course Mr. Rassam was commissioned to do his best to 
obtain, if practicable, the liberation of all the captives ; 
but it is manifest, from his instructions, that he was to 
insist on the liberation of Consul Cameron alone — that is 
to say, of the individual who, as the representative of the 
British Government, was the only person really to blame, 
and against whom, in that capacity though not personally, 
the Emperor had therefore the greatest cause of complaint; 
whilst the poor missionaries. Stern and Rosenthal, wlio 
loere the victims of an arbitrary domiciliary visit, which 
would never have been made but for the fault of the 
British Government, were to be left in the lurch, if needs 
must be — because, forsooth, Her Majesty's Government 
have no right to make authoritative demands in favour 
of any but British subjects f, even when they may happen 

• ' Times; July 1, 1865. 

t Mr. Stern is the bearer of a Foreign Office passport, in which ho 
is designated "a British subject." It was obtained for him through a 


to be in difficulties through the fault, not of themselves, 
but of that Government. What then becomes of the 
repeated " assurance on the part of Her Majesty's Go- 
vernment that they would do all in their power to obtain 
the release of the missionaries in common with Her Ma- 
jesty's Consul," on which the Committee of the London 
Society implicitly and confidently relied as a justification 
for their not adopting or promoting any separate action 
to save their own missionaries"^? 

In addition to the execution of his official instructions, 
Mr. Rassam had a duty to perform of a private and more 
delicate character, to which allusion has been made in a 
previous paget- He was to make a good case for the 
British Government — to remove the blame from their 
shoulders, even if it were thrown on those of any one else. 
It did not matter who might be the scapegoat, as long 
as the Government were exonerated. This is said quite 
advisedly ; and when the results of Mr. Rassam's mission 
come to be investigated, its truth will be seen and acknow- 
ledged by all, even the most sceptical. 

Having received his credentials, Mr. Rassam, accom- 
panied by a medical officer, proceeded to Massowah, at 
which island he arrived on the 20th of August, 1864. 
From Massowah he dispatched messengers to the Court 
of the Emperor, with the letters from the Coptic Patriarch ; 

banker by a relative of his wife, himself a British subject, who, in 
perfect good faith, stated the connexion between them, without any 
thought of the difference of nationality. Still, with such a passport, 
Mr. St(!rn has surely a right to the protection of our Government, 

• See Jewish Intelligence,' December 1, 1865, p. 298. 

t See page 150. 


and he himself addressed a letter to His Majesty, stating 
that he was the bearer of the Queen of England's answer 
to the Abyssinian Monarch's letter of October 31st, 1862, 
which he was prepared to bring up on a suitable escort 
being sent for him, but representing to His Majesty the 
propriety of the previous liberation of Her Britannic 
Majesty's Consul. 

The Emperor, indignant at such a demand being ad- 
dressed to him from the coast, instead of the Queen's 
" messenger" coming up to present Her Majesty's letter 
in person, refused to send him an answer : did not even 
condescend to notice him ! 

Nevertheless, shortly after the news of Mr. Rassam's 
arrival had reached the Court, two Abyssinians came down 
to Massowah and visited that gentleman, doing so as if it 
were out of curiosity and as mere strangers ; but, after a 
civil reception from him, these visitors vanished all at 
once, leaving no trace behind. They were evidently 
" spies, come to see the nakedness of the land " — emis- 
saries of the Emperor, sent to take note of him and his 
mission, and to report thereon, which they would hardly 
have been able to do in a manner satisfactory to their 
arrogant Sovereign. 

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to say what 
actually took place in the twelvemonth that elapsed be- 
tween the 20th of August, 1864, when Mr. Rassam arrived 
at Massowah, and the same date of the following year. 
From time to time reports, both favourable and unfavour- 
able, appeared in the newspapers ; but nothing certain was 
known ; and it would be to no good purpose to speculate 
as to the details, when it is sufficient to know the general 


result to have been, that no actual advance was made 
towards the lil)eration of the captives, or even towards the 
delivery of the Queen's letter, which remained in the pos- 
session of Mr. Rassara, whose j)resence at jMassowah con- 
tinued to be unrecognized by the Emperor^. 

Various messengers appear hovrever to have passed to 
and fro, one of them being a brother or near relative of 
Samuel, the Emperor's steward f, with whom JNIr. Rassam 
had established a friendly communication ; whether or not 
in consequence of any previous acquaintance with him at 
Aden, I cannot say. Meanwhile, it having been disco- 
vered that Her Majesty's letter to the Emperor was not 
sealed with the Royal Signet and was in other respects 
insufficient, another letter duly signed and sealed was 
substituted for the original informal one, in the month 
of February or March 1865. 

''At a later time," as was stated by Earl Russell in the 
House of Lords, " it w^as suggested that some military or 
naval officer would be treated Avith more respect [than 
Mr. Rassam], and he had therefore desired, through the 
India Office, that the Resident at Aden should send a 
military officer to Massowah; and such an officer had 
been sent"|. But the officer sent was only a subaltern, 
the third assistant to the Resident at Aden, who, being 
Mr. Rassam's subordinate, could not be " treated Avith 
more respect " than that gentleman. His presence 
however had the efl'ect of exalting Mr. Rassam as the 

• As late as the end of April 1865 Earl Russell admitted that " it 
did not appear from the last accounts that the King had taken any 
steps towards receiving that letter." — 'Times,' April 28, 180.5. 

t f^ee page 70, note. \ ' Times,' May 24, 1865. 


head of the mission, which now consisted of himself, 
Dr. Blanc, and Lieutenant Prideaux. 

In the Address to the Crown moved for by Lord 
Chelmsford, as has to be mentioned in the next Chapter, 
one of the particulars asked for was an " Account of the 
Presents sent to the King of Abyssinia to accompany 
the delivery of the Letter" under Her Majesty's sign 
manual ; to which the answer given was, " None.'^ Sub- 
sequently however — for the whole business, from be- 
ginning to end, has been a piece of patchwork — it was 
deemed advisable to send a present of five hundred stand 
of arms to the Emperor Theodore, as a ransom for Consul 
Cameron; and I did hear that the sum of 15,000 dollars 
was to be added as a makeweight. If I mistake not, 
the muskets still remain at Aden, no opportunity having 
occurred of sending them into Abyssinia — at all times a 
difficult task, as the Turks will not allow firearms to 
pass through Massowah into the interior. As to the 
dollars, I believe them to have been intended for secret- 
service money. Though it may not be material, still it 
is well to place on record that what I had thus heard was 
communicated by me on June 21st, 1865, to a nol)leman 
holding office under the present Administration. 





DuEiNG the session of 1865 the subject of the impri- 
sonment of the captives was brought before Parliament on 
repeated occasions; and in particular Lord Chehnsford 
in the House of Lords on the 23rd of May, and Sir 
Hugh Cairns in the House of Commons on the 30th of 
June, made some searching inquiries, which were strongly 
deprecated by both Earl Russell and Mr. Layard, as likely 
to prove injurious to the captives should tlie intelligence 
reach the Emperor Theodore. Lord Chelmsford, how- 
ever, succeeded in carrying his motion for an Address to 
the Queen for the production of certain papers relating 
to the sul)ject, though the Address was but imperfectly 
responded to by the Foreign Office*, some of the most 

* rarlianiontary Paper, 18(55, ' Papers rolatinp tn the Imprisonment 
of British Subjects in Abyssinia.' 


important documents being witliheld. On the 5th of July 
of the same year, just before the prorogation of ParUa- 
ment, when the subject was again discussed in the 
House of Commons, Mr. Layard promised to produce 
other papers, which, however, were not laid before Par- 
liament till Mr. Darby Griffith moved for them on Au- 
gust 3rd, 1866 *. 

Throughout all the debates in both Houses of Parlia- 
ment, and likewise out of doors among the friends of 
Lord Russell's Administration, every attempt was made to 
stifle inquiry and discussion, professedly lest it should 
injure the captives. Without citing, as I might easily do, 
numerous instances of this deprecation of inquiry, I will 
merely refer to what was said by Lord Shaftesbury as 
lately as May 3rd, 1866, as is recorded in page 152. In 
doing so, I must however repeat that I believe his Lord- 
ship to have been unwittingly the mouthpiece of others, 
whose fear of merited censure made them employ every 
means of putting off the day of reckoning until after 
the final liberation of the captives, when the general 
feeling of joy and gratitude for their safety would more 
than counterbalance the trouble and dissatisfaction which 
had been caused by such great mismanagement and long 

Had the dread of offending the Emperor Theodore been 
the real motive for this urgent desire to avoid discussion 
and inquiry. Earl Russell and Mr. Layard would them- 
selves have been the first to set an example of moderation 
in their language respecting that potentate. Instead of 

* Parliamentary Paper, 186G, ' Further Corre^pondeiioc respeotiujr 
the British Captives in A])yssinia.' 

M 2 


which, it is precisely these two statesmen who were guilty 
of applying the strongest and most oflensive epithets to 
Theodore, and who spoke of his conduct with the greatest 

It is hardly necessary to adduce instances of what was 
at the time a matter of notoriety. A daily journal, when 
commenting on the debates in Parliament, says, in 
speaking of the captives : — " Their lives would be worth 
very little if Theodore should learn^ whilst they are stiU 
at his disposition, in what offensive language Mr. Layard, 
in the name of the English Government, abused him^^t* 
And a contemporary adds, " The Foreign Secretary 
went on to emulate his subordinate in applying abusive 
language to the Abyssinian Emperor, who is supposed to 
be so sensitive to such remarks ^^ J. This inconsistency 
is tersely put by 'Punch,^ whose pages appear to con- 
tribute to the special recreation of the Emperor of 
Abyssinia §. On July 15th, 1855, that witty monitor 
says, in his ' Essence of Parliament,'' " The Earl [Russell] 
described King Theodore as a blood-thu'sty tyrant; and 
as Theodore has the English papers read to him^ this 
may please him.^^ 

In consequence of the discussions in Parliament, 
Earl Russell at length decided on doing what he might 
better have done long before — namely, on taking the 

* It is a fact worlhy of notice that when the news of the ill- 
treatment of the missionaries first arrived, Lord Shaftesbury, did 
not scruple to call the Emperor a " barbarian Philistine." (See the 
' Record ' of May 9th, 18G4.) 

t ' Standard,' July 5th, 18G5. 

X ' Pall Mall Gazette,' July 'Mh, 18G5. 

§ Mr. Stem writes from Goudar, '']\Iost of all was the inquisitive 
descendant of Solomon interested in the caricatures of ' Punch.' " 

TilE author's offer. MR. PALGRAVE's MISSION*. ] G5 

matter into his own hands, instead of leaving it, as it 
had thus far been left, in those of Mr. Layard and his 
nominee, Mr. Rassam. And Lord Houghton and the 
Earl of Malmesbury, on opposite sides of the House of 
Peers, having spoken of me in highly flattering terms 
in the debate on July 4th, and I having on the 7th of 
that month again offered to undertake the liberation of 
tlie captives on my own responsibility, his Lordship (as I 
have understood on unquestionable authority) had almost 
made up his mind to send for me and place the matter 
in my hands, when Mr. W. Gifford Palgrave, the accom- 
plished traveller in Arabia, having been strongly recom- 
mended to Earl Russell, was preferred by him to me. 

My letter of July 7th to Earl Russell is given in the 
Appendix, together with two other letters which I ad- 
dressed to his Lordship on the 21st and 22nd of the same 

The arrangements for Mr. Palgrave's mission were made 
with the utmost celerity and as secretly as possible. His 
instructions from Earl Russell were more favourable to 
Messrs. Stern and Rosenthal than those given by Mr. 
Layard to ]Mr. Rassam ; for Mr. Palgrave was directed to 
secure the liberation of the German missionaries in com- 
mon with the Consul and other British subjects; which, 
as has been shown in a former pagC^, was not the 
tenour of Mr. Rassam's instructions. 

Having received his credentials from the Foreign Office, 

Mr. Palgrave proceeded to Egypt, where he lost no time 

in making the necessary preparations for his expedition ; 

his intention being to enter Abyssinia from Matamma on 

* See page 157. 


the north-western frontier; and he is said to have ex- 
pended considerable sums of money in the purchase of 

At the instance of Colonel Stanton, the Government of 
the Viceroy of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, took immediate and 
energetic measures for Mr. Palgrave's speedy voyage up 
the Nile, placing a steamer at his disposal, and giving 
orders to the authorities in the upper country to facilitate 
his further journey by land to the confines of Abyssinia. 
Two days more, and he would have been away from 
Cairo, pursuing his rapid voyage up the Nile under the 
most favourable conditions; when suddenly Mr. Rassam 
made his appearance at Suez, and put an end to Mr. Pal- 
grave^s undertaking *. 

The cu'cumstances under which Mr. Rassam thus visited 
Egypt are not a little remarkable. 

When it had been decided by Earl Russell that Mr. 
Rassam should be superseded by Mr. Palgrave, the former 
gentleman was written to, both officially and privately, 
informing him of it ; and he was ordered to return to his 
post at Aden, where his presence and most useful services 
had long been required. 

There was no difficulty in communicating this intelli- 
gence to Mr. Rassam. The Steamer * Victoria,' belong- 
ing to the Bombay Government, had been placed at the 

* So little did Mr. Palgrave anticipate any contretemps, tliat ou the 
very day of I\Ir. Raasam's arrival at Suez ho left the private hotel at 
Cairo whore he had been residing for several weeks, and removed to 
Sheplieard's hotel, for tlie purpose of giving a gi-and farewell dinner ; 
notifying his departure in the register book of the hotel he had so 
left, and signing it " W. Gilford Palgrave, II. My's Envoi to Abys- 
sinia, 5 Sept. 186o.'' 


disposal of the Political Resident at Aden during the 
continuance of the mission to Abyssinia ; and that vessel 
was almost incessantly engaged in keeping up a com- 
munication with Mr. Uassam. As was quaintly observed 
by a native gentleman, writing from Aden on the 17th of 
June 1865, " The ' Victoria* makes two trips monthly to 
and from Massowah, but brings no particular news. It 
is fact that the prisoners are in very bad condition ; and 
if they stop longer in same, they will soon die. Very 
little remedy is done for them " *. 

On the trip which the ' Victoria ' made to Massowah 
towards the end of August, she conveyed to Mr. Rassam 
the intelligence of his recall, with orders to return by that 
vessel to his post at Aden. But instead of obeying those 
orders, Mr. Rassam turned the ' Victoria's ' head the 
other way, and took his passage in her to Suez. On his 
arrival there, on September 5th, he despatched a tele- 
gram to Colonel Stanton at Alexandria, announcing 
that "■ Consul Cameron had been released," and that 
he had come on to Egypt to consult as to the course 
to be adopted in the altered state of affairs. 

This most gratifying intelligence was immediately for- 
warded by Colonel Stanton to the Foreign Office, and 
was distributed by Mr. Layard with commendable alacrity 
to all the newspapers, appearing in their impression of 
September 6th in these words : — " Information has been 
received that Mr. Rassam had arrived at Suez, and had 
reported to Her Majesty's Agent and Consul- General in 
Egypt that Consul Cameron had been released.'' 

From the vague terms in which this intelligence was 
* ' Pall Midi Gazette/ July 10, 18Go. 

168 THE BUrriSH captives IX ABYSSINIA. 

given, a very general impression prevailed that Consul 
Cameron had not merely been released, but had even 
been brought on to Suez by Mr. Rassam, and therefore 
might soon be expected in England. But this hope was 
destined to be soon disappointed. It was " explained ^^ 
that Consul Cameron had been released from his chains 
only ; and after a short interval the further " explanation" 
was given that Mr. Rassam having made it a condition 
that the liberation of Consul Cameron shoidd precede the 
delivery of the Queen of England's letter to the Emperor, 
the latter had ordered the Consults chains to be removed 
in the presence of Mr. Rassam^s messengers, so that they 
might be able to report what they had actually seen — and 
that then, as soon as the messengers were out of sight, 
the fetters had been replaced by heavier ones. 

This explanation is understood to have been given by 
Mr. Rassam himself in a letter to Earl Russell, written on 
the same day on which he sent the telegram announcing, 
without any qualification, that Consul Cameron had been 
released. In Earl RusselFs despatch of October 5th to 
Colonel Stanton, the following passage occurs : — " It ap- 
pears from King Theodore's letter to Mr. Rassam, sent 
home l)y that gentleman in his letter of September 5tli, 
that the King alleges that Captain Cameron * abused 
and denounced him as a murderer,' in consequence of 
the vengeance he took on the persons who killed Consul 
Plowden and Mr. Bell, and that when he had treated him 
well and asked him to make him (the King) a friend of 
the Queen, Captain Cameron ' went and stayed some time 
with the Turks and returned to me (the King) ;' and fur- 
ther, that when the King spoke to Captain Cameron about 


the letter sent by him to the Queen^ he said he had not 
received any intelligence concerning it " *. 

This certainly does not convey the idea that Captain 
Cameron could have been released even for a moment; 
and from private letters from all the principal captives 
— Mr. Stern, Mr. and Mrs. Rosenthal, Mr. Kerans, and 
Consul Cameron himself — dated about the middle of July, 
the fact is established that, in consequence of the escape 
of the Prince of Slioa on July 1st (as has been already re- 
lated), all the European captives had had their chains 
doubled, fetters being placed on their hands as well as on 
their feetf ; and it must be added that there is not in any 
of their letters a single word that would serve as a founda- 
tion for the report of Cameron's pretended release from 
his chains, even for a single moment, or under any pre- 
tence whatever. 

The alleged letter from the Emperor bore neither the 
signature nor the seal of that monarch ; and doubts have 
consequently been entertained as to its authenticity. On 
the other hand, I have heard that the letter was really 
written on the part of the Emperor, but that, in con- 
sequence of Mr. Rassam's having so long delayed to 
bring up the Queen's letter. His Majesty positively re- 
fused to address him in person. This does not, however, 
appear to be very material — the point that is really im- 
portant being to know on what evidence Mr. Rassam 
telegraphed to Colonel Stanton, on September 5th, that 
Consul Cameron had been released, and what were the 
contents of the despatch which that gentleman addressed 

* Parliamentary Paper, 1866, ' Further Correspondence,' Sec, p. 03. 
t See page 145. 


on the same day to Earl Russell, enclosing a letter pur- 
porting to come from the Emperor Theodore. But, in 
truth, the whole matter of Mr. Rassam^s visit to Egypt 
and of the intelligence which he was the medium of con- 
veymg to England, is altogether enveloped in mystery 
and requires explanation. 

For the moment, however, there was not the slightest 
suspicion of the entire worthlessncss of the intelligence ; 
and consequently its immediate result was the putting 
a check upon Mr. Palgrave's mission. 

When, shortly after Mr. Rassam^s arrival in Egypt, 
it came to be known that the report put in circula- 
tion was unfounded, it became necessary to decide what 
should be done under the novel circumstances. Backed 
by his patron Mr. Layard, and doubtless encouraged by 
the official sympathies of the Foreign and India Offices — 
where, as in all Government departments, "outsiders '' are 
not favoured — Mr, Rassam declined all fellowship with 
Earl RusselFs nominee ; and when it Avas proposed by an 
officer whose voice was entitled to be heard, that the one 
should go by the way of Massowah and the other up the 
Nile, or at all events that the two should proceed to- 
gether, Mr. Rassam objected to this, and indeed to all 
compromise or arrangement of any kind, insisting that, 
if he was to continue to be employed, the business must 
be left in his own hands entirely and exclusively. 

The final result was that Earl Russcll^s nominee had 
to yield to Mr. Layard's friend, who, after taking over 
the presents bought by Mr. Palgrave, and (it is said) 
uddmg thereto others which he himself purchased, left 
Cairo on the 18th of September, and returned to Aden 


by the 'Victoria/ which vessel had been kept waiting 
for him at Suez. 

Mr. PalgravCj on the other hand, remained behind in 
Egypt in the pay of the British Government, " to await/* 
as was declared, " the result of Mr. Rassam's mission." 
There he continued until June 1866, though with what 
object is not patent. For when, in March last, news 
was received of Mr. Rassam^s favourable reception by the 
Emperor and the ordered liberation of the captives — and, 
yet more, when in May the further intelligence arrived of 
their having been all handed over to Mr. Rassam, and 
being about to leave Abyssinia — nay, that they had even 
started for the coast — he still remained in Egypt under 
orders from the Foreign Office; whereas at the end of 
June, when Mr. Flad unexpectedly arrived in Egypt with 
intelligence of the " detention" of Mr. Rassam and his 
suite with all the captives (that is to say, of the unsuc- 
cessful " result of Mr. Rassam^s mission," which he had 
been so long ''awaiting "), he started off for England, run- 
ning a race with Mr. Flad, and winning it by a length — 
he having (if I am rightly informed) reached London on 
July 8th, and Mr. Flad on the following day. That 
Mr. Palgrave did not come to England on the affairs of 
the captives in Abyssinia, is manifest from the fact that 
a few days only after his arrival he received a Consulship 
in the Black Sea, whither he has since gone. What the 
meaning of all this is remains an enigma, the solution 
of which, like that of a good many others arising out of 
this calamitous "Abyssinian Question," will doubtless 
be found in the further Papers which will have to bo 
laid before Parliament in the approaching Session. 







Whilst Mr. Rassam was away on his visit to Egypt^ a 
curious incident occurred, which is deserving of a place in 
the general history. 

On that gentleman's leaving Massowah in the 'Vic- 
toria,' he gave to the Political Resident at Aden, hy 
whom that vessel had been sent to convey him back to 
his post, no intimation of what he had done. Several 
days having elapsed without the ' Victoria's ' making her 
appearance at Aden with Mr. Rassam on board, or any 


intelligence of her^ Colonel Merewether became anxious 
about the vessel, not unnaturally imagining that some 
accident must have happened ; and the ' Surcouf/ a 
steamer of the French Navy, chancing to be then in the 
harbour, he requested her Commander to run across to 
Massowah and see what was the matter. 

On his arrival at Massowah, the Captain of the ' Sur- 
couf not only heard of Mr. Rassam's sudden departure 
for Suez, for which no reason could be assigned, but he 
found at the same time that a native messenger had 
arrived from the interior with letters from Consul Came- 
ron and the other captives, being those of the middle of 
July, containing the news of the flight of the Prince of 
Shoa and the consequent vengeance taken by the Emperor 
on all his captives, native and European. The French 
officer naturally asked for those letters, to take with him 
to Aden; but the messenger refused to give them up to 
any one but Mr. Rassam, who, it appears, had given 
orders to the Consul's clerk, Abdallah Efi*endi, ia charge 
of the Consulate, that all letters arriving from the in- 
terior should be kept till his return. On this the Captain 
of the ' Surcouf'' made the best of his way back to Aden 
and reported the facts to Colonel Merewether, at whose 
request he obligingly went over again to Massowah, with 
a peremptory order for the immediate delivery to him of 
the letters, which he brought away, together (if I am 
rightly informed) with the messenger himself, who still 
persisted in not parting with them except to his employer, 
Mr. Rassam. 

The letters thus brought down from Consul Cameron 
and Mr. Stern announced that the Emperor had, about 


the bcgmning of July, written to Mr. Rassam desiring 
him to come up to him at once ; and tliey expressed tlie 
opinion that his speedy advent and the delivciy of the 
Queen^s letter would effect their liberation *. 

Mr. llassam was however gone to Suez, and conse- 
quently it was not till his return to Aden, about the end 
of September, that the contents of those letters could 
become known to him. The letters themselves, in 
consequence of their having been left lying at Mas- 
sowah, did not arrive in England till October 11th ; 
whereby the truthful intelligence that Consul Cameron 
and the other captives had been double-ironed was not 
received till upwards of a month after the report that 
"Consul Cameron had been released" had been in cir- 

On the retm^n of the ' Victoria ' to Aden with Mr. Ras- 
sam on board, she was ordered off to Massowah without 
loss of time ; and in order to guard against a second flight 
into Egypt, and also to secure Mr. Rassam^s prompt de- 
parture on his hitherto protracted mission, the Commander 
of that vessel had special orders to land that gentleman 
and his suite without delay, and to sec to their imme- 
diate joui'ney into the interior — a week, or at the utmost 
ten days, being allowed either to make the necessary 
arrangements for their departure, or else to bring them 
back to Aden. 

Under such circumstances, every expedition could not 
fail to be used ; and accordingly, on the 19th of October 
18G5, just fourteen montlis after Mr. Rassam's first ar- 
rival at Massowah with the Queen's letter, that gentle- 

* Mr. Stern's letter to that effect ie given in the Appendix. 


man left the coast for the interior, accompanied by Dr. 
Blanc and Mr. Pridcaux. 

In the preparations for his journey, Mr. Rassam was 
materially aided by M. Werner Munzinger, the French 
Consular Agent at Massowah, whose intimate personal ac- 
quaintance wdth the regions they had to traverse, and 
general local knowledge, were of essential ser^dce. 

If I am rightly informed, that gentleman has for several 
years past been settled at Keren, the chief place of Bogos, 
of which country he has married a native ; and he is also 
established at Massow'ah as a merchant. After the af- 
fair of the ' Surcouf,' it was deemed advisable to have an 
European agent at Massowah; and M. Munzinger has in 
consequence had the English Consulate placed in his 
charge, in addition to that of France. 

M. Munzinger is well known as a traveller and man of 
letters, and he has written several works relating to the 
countries he has visited — the principal one being ^ Ost- 
africanische Studien ' *, published about two j^ears ago. 

In the Introduction to that work, the author has re- 
ferred to my pamplilet, ' The French and English in the 
Red Sea,' speaking of it favourably, except that he con- 
siders it to be too English f- I had endeavoured to 
be impartial, as M. Munzinger himself professes to be ; 
and now, with every desire not to judge my critic un- 
fairly, I should say that, if I am too English, he is too 
un-English. But all depends on the point of \iew. By 
birth M. Munzinger is a Swiss Roman Catholic, and (if 

* 8vo : SchafFliausen, Fr. Hurter'sche Buchhandliing, 1864. 
t " Eine Schrift von Hrn. Beke ... die sehr lelin-eich abor fast 
zu sehr englisch gefarbt ist." — Einleittmy, S. 45. 


I mistake not) he received a considerable portion of his 
education in France. It is not surprising, then, if, whilst 
intending to represent things as they present themselves 
to us, we should be looking on the two sides of the gold 
and silver shield. 

Ha^dng thus had occasion to allude to M. Munzinger, 
it will not be out of place to mention here that, when my 
wife and I went to Abyssinia in the beginning of the 
present year, that gentleman, whilst rendering us many 
personal services and kindnesses, for which I shall always 
feel grateful, was decidedly opposed to our journey. He 
even went so far as to tell Mrs. Beke, in the hearing of 
more than one officer of the British navy, that he should 
do all in his power to prevent us from proceeding inland, 
which he subsequently explained to myself as meaning 
merely that he should exert his influence with me to in- 
duce me not to go. As regards the motive for his con- 
duct, I desire not to ofi'er an opinion. I speak only of 
the fact. 

• I must further mention that, when some of the officers 
of Her Majesty^s ship ' Lyra ' accompanied my wife and 
myself on shore, on a shooting-excursion, in the direc- 
tion of Zulla, the representative of the ancient Adule, in 
Annesley Bay, whither Captain Parr, her excellent com- 
mander, was so good as to take us, in order that we 
might see whether a way inland was not practicable 
from that point, M. Munzinger assuredly did not help us ; 
though when we were stopped by the Sliohos he most 
pi'omptly provided for our return in all safety and honour. 

Still, in spite of obstacles of various kinds, the parti- 
culars of which will be related when I come to the narra- 


tive of our recent visit to Abyssiuiaj I saw quite cuough 
on that little trip, in connexion with our subsequent jour- 
ney, to confirm the opinion I have so long entertained, 
that when the ancient Greeks founded Adule or Adulis, 
at the mouth of the river Hadas — now only a river-be(5 
without water except during the rains, though a shoi't 
way above there is water all the year round — they knew 
that they possessed one of the keys to Abyssinia; and i 
was also convinced that the French knew the same wlien 
they sought to obtain possession of that spot in De- 
cember 1859, under the circumstances narrated in a pre- 
vious Chapter"^. 

I perceived yet further that the authorities at Massowah 
were desirous that, as far as lay in their power, the En- 
glish should not become acquainted with this road ; and, 
however " English" it may be, my wife (on account of my 

* Chapter IV. page 58, On December 20tli, 1859, writing from 
Mauritius, I drew the attention of the Foreign Secretary, then Lord 
John Russell,- to the designs of the French on Adulis. In 1861, 
I printed that letter and others addressed to the Foreign Office and 
the Board of Trade, appending to it in a note the following passage 
from an article (not from my pen) which had appeared in the ' Times ' 
of December 6th, 1859 :— 

" The reader of Eastern history will recognize in Adoolis one of the 
four great Abyssinian emporia of the Indian trade in ancient times, 
the remaining three being Azab, Axum, and Meroe. Of these Adool, 
or Adoolis, appears to have been the most renowned, owing to its 
highly favourable position in the Red Sea, as also its fertility and 
safe anchorage. The skill of the ' children of Adool ' in ship-buildiug 
is eidogized in the Moallaha of Tarifa, a famous Arabian poet of the 
sixth century ; and it was in the same century that, instigated thereto 
by Justinian, the Abyssinian Nejachi, or King, known to the Westerns 
by the name of Elisbaas, built 700 small vessels at Adool, and -witli 
the cooperation of a Roman fleet transported 70,000 Abyssinians into 
Arabia, and effected the conquest of Yemen." 

178 THE niiiTisn captives in abyssinia. 

ill-healtli at the time I may truly say dux fcemina facti"^) 
and myself were determined that the English should 
become acquainted with it in case of need. I have 
therefore to place here on record that^ in the foui' days 
from the 5th to the 8th of INIay inclusive, we descended 
from Halai;, on the edge of the Abyssinian tableland at 
an elevation of 8500 feet above the ocean, to Arkiko, 
on the seashore opposite Massowah, travelling only in 
the morning and evening, and resting at night and 
during the heat of the day, and that the time we were 
actually in the saddle was 20| hours ! Of this time 7\ 
hours were consumed in crossing the low country be- 
tween the Hadas and Arkiko ; so that only thirteen 
hours and a half ivere requisite to bring us dawn from the 
Abyssinian tableland to cohere that river turns off to Adulis 
and the sea. And whilst in the upper country I obtained 
information respecting another road between the table- 
land and the sea, which is still better than that along 
the valley of the Hadas. This serves to show how 
erroneous is the notion of the inaccessibility of Abys- 

* A '' passed " candidate for a post in the Library of the British 
Museum might render this in English, " a duck of a woman indeed." 

t It is surprising how little seems to be known in the several de- 
partments of our Government on the subject of the approaches to 
Abyssinia. A twelvemonth ago an officer holding a high position 
asked my opinion as to the choice to be made, in the event of a war, 
out of six routes, the particulars of which he had obtained (he said) 
from a source entirely to be relied on. Two roads known to myself, 
and both communicated by me long ago to Govei'nment, were not 
among those six, though preferable to them all ! When the subject 
was again discussed very recently, I believe that one of my two roads 
was brought foi-ward — though of course without any allusion to an 
" outsider " like mvself — but the other still remained unnoticed. 


Mr. Rassam did not^ however, take his course in this 
direction. The letter from the Emperor, or whoever may 
have written it in his name, directed the mission to pro- 
ceed westward tlirough the border districts of Bogos, 
Barea, Taka, and Kedarif, to Matamma, where an escort 
was to be provided to conduct him to Debra Tabor, or 
wherever the Emperor might happen to be. 

For the transport of the tents, stores, presents, and 
baggage of the mission thirty-five camels were needed, 
and with the requisite attendants and followers a goodly 
caravan was formed. No time appears to have been lost 
on the journey, which however was unavoidably slow. 

The tardy and intermittent notices of Mr. E-assam's 
progress were at the time watched by the public with in- 
tense interest ; but the particulars are now of little mo- 
ment. It will be sufficient to note that he arrived at Kas- 
sala, the capital of the Egyptian province of Taka, on 
November 6th, and left that place on the 9th, and that 
on the 21st he reached Matamma. On his arrival there 
he wrote to the Emperor, informing him of it and asking 
for a safe conduct and an escort. After a delay of about 
a month (I have not the precise date) , the long-expected 
escort arrived. It consisted of a strong body of soldiers 
under the command of three " bashas"^, whose orders were 
to giv^ Mr. Rassam and the mission a hearty wel- 
come, and to escort them in safety to Debra Tabor, where 
they were to await the arrival of the Emperor, wlio had 
gone back into Godjam to attack the ''rebel" Tadela 
Gwalu, who during so many years has set Theodore at 
defiance. The Emperor's European workmen at Gall at 
* The siguitication of this title is given in page 20. 



were also written to^, ordering them to receive Mr. Ras- 
sam and his suite^ and to provide for their comfort in 
every Avay. 

As Gaffat is not marked in tlie ordinary maps of Abys- 
sinia, and there is a district in the south of the peninsula 
of Godjam, visited by me in October 1842, which formerly 
bore or was inhabited by a people who bore that name"^, 
and which has been supposed to be the residence of the 
-Emperor's European Avorkmen, it may be well to explain 
that the place in question is a village in the immediate 
vicinity of Debra Tabor, where Consul Plowden used to 
[)ut up when he visited Ras Ali or the present Em- 
peror, and which has now become the permanent resi- 
dence of the little colony of European gunsmiths and 
other workmen in the pay of the Emperor — a sort of 
Abyssinian Woolwich Arsenal. 

From Matamma Mr. Rassam with his escort proceeded 
on the way towards Gondar and Debra Tabor, and on the 
4th of January 1866 they reached a place called Belloha, 
between Wekhni and Tjelga (Chelga), when they were 
stopped by a body of troops belonging to the " rebel " Tessu 
Gobazye (not Gobazye the Waag Shum, but another 
powerful chief of the same name, the son of a person of low 
degree named Tessu), who for several years past has held 
rule in the larger portion of the north-Avestern provij^ices of 
the empire down southwards as far as Gondar. It was re- 
ported at Massowah that Mr. Rassam had been taken pri- 
soner, and only liberated by his escort after a hard fight 
with the rebels. Another report was that he obtained 
his freedom by paying a heavy ransom. At all events 
* See ' Journal of the Royal Geographical Society,' vol. xiv. p. 24. 


it is certain that he succeeded in escaping from Tessu 
Gobazye^s soldiers, and that on January 11th he had 
arrived in safety within twenty miles of Gondar ; which 
fact was duly notified in his despatches to Government 
of that date. 

A reference to the map will show that at that time 
Mr. Rassam was at a short distance to the north of Lake 
Tsana, and that, had he continued his journey as origi- 
nally contemplated, he would have gone along the north- 
eastern and eastern sides of the lake. But it would ap- 
pear that, for some cause not yet explained, he did not 
continue on that course; for on January 28th (only 
seventeen days after he had written from near Gondar, 
saying he was going in the direction above indicated) 
we find him in Damot, about forty miles to the south of 
the south-western corner of Lake Tsana, and at no great 
distance from the source of the river Abai. 

The road actually taken is nowhere stated ; but I con- 
jecture that, what between the one Gobazye and the 
other*, the country to the east side of the lake was not 
considered safe for Mr. Rassam to pass through, and that 
therefore orders had been sent to him and his escort to 
alter their course, and to proceed along the Avestern side 
of the lake to join the Emperor. 

However this may be, the result was, that on the 28th 
of January, 1866, Mr. Eassam at length reached the 
Emperor's camp. What occurred at the meeting and 
subsequently, is narrated in an abstract made by Colonel 
Merewether from Mr. Rassam^s report to Her Ma- 

* The Waag Slium's inroad from the uorth-east, mentioned in page 
143, is believed to have occurred somewhere about this time. 


jesty's Goverument; which abstract was published in 
the 'Times of India' of July 21st, and has thence been 
copied iuto the ' Jewish Intelligence ' of October 1st 
(pp. 291-256) . 

In giving here this abstract of Mr. Rassam's report ver- 
batim, I feel myself called on to comment on several 
portions of it, which cannot be allowed to pass without 

" On the morning of the 28th January, Mr. Rassam, ac- 
companied by Dr. Blanc and Mr. Prideaux, came in sight 
of the Emperor's camp, which was pitched in the district 
of Damot, between Agaumider and Godjam. As they 
had received a courteous message from His Majesty on 
the road, about three miles from the camp, to the effect 
that he had graciously ordered all his officers of state to 
meet them on the road and escort them to the court, 
they halted at 11 a.m. for about twenty minutes, to put 
on their uniforms, in a small tent which was pitched for 
the occasion, in order that they might be in fitting cos- 
tume to meet the Abyssinian grandees. 

" At noon they met the guards of honour that had been 
sent by His Majesty to welcome them. Ras Engeda, the 
Chief Minister, came forward on foot to welcome them on 
the part of his royal master, and made many ci^il speeches 
through Samuel, the King's steward, who had been sent 
by the Emperor to interpret. Mr. Rassam and his com- 
panions immediately dismounted, and after some ci^dl 
words had been said in answer to the royal message, Ras 
Engeda presented Mr. Rassam with a fine mule, nicely ca- 
l)arisoned, saying that his master sent it for him to ride 
iuto the royal camp. Ras Engeda then rode before them 

MR. RASSAm's interview WITH THE EMPEROR. 183 

with about 300 officers^ the rest of the cavahy riding be- 
hind, and they proceeded in this order at a quiet pace, 
until they reached the foot of the hill on which the King's 
pavilion was pitched. Here they dismounted, and were in- 
vited by Eas Eiigeda to take a little rest in a red cloth tent, 
which had been pitched by order of the King for their re- 
ception. After many polite speeches, Ras Engeda and 
Samuel left them, and Avent to report their arrival to the 
King. In the meanwhile refreshments were brought in, 
sent from the royal kitchen, together with a present of ten 
cows and as many sheep. 

" About three o'clock Mr. Rassam received a very civil 
note from His Majesty, wherein he expressed his desire to 
see him. A verbal message accompanied the note, to the 
effect that, although the day was Sunday, the King could 
not delay the meeting any longer. Mr. Rassam and his 
companions accordingly repaired immediately to the royal 
pavilion. From the bottom of the hill they found mus- 
keteers ranged as a guard of honour on the right and left 
for their reception ; and on coming in sight of the royal 
pavilion the infantry soldiers began to discharge their 
muskets (no cannon being available) , and continued to fire 
in regular order till the visitors were ushered into the royal 
presence. The pavilion was made of silk, and carpeted 
with the same material. 

" The King was a man of middle age, tall, well-built, 
with aquiline nose and dark piercing eyes. His coun- 
tenance shows resolution and a powerful mind, while his 
smile is fall of sweetness. His Majesty received them 
sitting on a couch covered with silk his throne having 
been left behind at Magdala, all the ministers of state 


juid officers of the court stauding on either side of the 

"When Mr. Rassam had handed His Majesty the Queen^s 
letter^ and interchanged a few civil words befitting the oc- 
casion, they were invited to sit down on the right hand of 
His Majesty. As the royal epistle was without a transla- 
tion, and as there was no one in the court who coidd read 
English, His Majesty laid it on the right side of the couch, 
and began by saying that he was glad to see Mr. Rassam, 
and that he hoped they were all well after the fatigue of 
the long journey. All the ministers remained standing, 
and seemed very attentive to whatever was said by His Ma- 
jesty and by Mr. Rassam in reply. 

" The King then opened up the sul)ject of his grievances, 
and related everything that had taken place from the time 
of the death of Messrs. Plowden and Bell. He blamed in 
strong terms the conduct of the missionaries and of Mr. 
Cameron. In reply to this Mr. Rassam spoke in a sooth- 
uig way, and apparently succeeded in allaying the royal 

Thus far Mr. Rassam. In the remarks I am about to 
make, I have no intention to dispute the accuracy of that 
gentleman^s report of what occurred in the conversations 
between him and the Emperor Theodore. But whilst 
accepting that report as veracious, I am not only war- 
ranted in denying the trutli of the statements which are 
so reported, but also in contending that as Mr. Rassam, 
like myself and those acquainted with the real facts of 
the case, was aware of the untruth of these statements, 
he was not justified in repeating them without qualifica- 
tion or comment, so as to lead the general reader and 


the public to believe in the truth of what the Emperor 
is thus reported to have said. 

Mr. Rassam tells us that the Emperor '' opened up the 
subject of his grievances/'' and that he then " blamed in 
strong terms the conduct of the missionaries and of Mr. 
Cameron^' — as if that conduct had been at all '""the sub- 
ject of his grievances." How little the one had really to 
do with the other is fully shown in these pages, and is 
unhappily confirmed, at the cost of Mr. Rassam himself, 
by Avhat has since occnrred. It is much to be regretted 
for Mr. Rassam' s sake that he should have allowed the 
Emperor's assertions to pass unnoticeed. Of course, it 
would have been impolitic and uncourtierlike for him to 
contradict or even appear to doubt the truth of ■ any- 
thing His Majesty might have thovight fit to say to him. 
But in making his report to the British Government and 
to the British public, the same restraint Avas altogether 
unnecessary and indefensible. 

Mr. Rassam next relates that, " During the conversation, 
Samuel was employed by the King as interpreter, and this 
officer was afterwards employed as ' introducer ' for Mr. 
Rassam, in accordance with the Abyssinian rule, — an ar- 
rangement which appears to have been a satisfactory one, 
as Samuel knows Amharic and Arabic very well, and seems 
really desirous to promote a friendly feeling between 
England and Abyssinia.^' 

From what has been stated in the biographical memoir 
of Samuel given in the note to page 79, and from his 
conduct towards the captives as related in Mr. Stern's 
letters in the Appendix, it is not improbable that Mr. 
Rassam may since have had cause to modify his opinion 


with respect to tliat individual. It is only to be hoped 
that this is not the case, and that Samuel has proved 
to be really deserving of all the good said of him by 
Mr. Rassam. But it must be mentioned that that gentle- 
man was seriously warned, by more than one person, 
against putting too much trust in him. 

The report then continues : — " Soon after they had re- 
turned to their tent after this intervicAV, the King sent 
over Her Majesty's letter to be translated into Amharic. 
This occupied a considerable amount of time, as Mr. 
Rassam had to translate it into Arabic, the interpreter and 
Samuel then retranslating it to the chief scribe in Am- 

" Very early next morning (Jan. 29) the King sent for 
them. They found His Majesty standing outside the Royal 
pavilion, and, after being welcomed, they were invited to 
enter. When all the attendants, except Ras Engcda, the 
chief scribe, Samuel, and Mr. Rassam's Mohammedan in- 
terpreter, had been ordered to withdraw, the King again 
recounted his complaints regarding the misconduct of the 
European prisoners. He then expressed himself much 
pleased at having at last seen Mr. Rassam, and said that 
the friendly intentions of England towards himself had 
been proved by Mr. Rassam's patience and good conduct, 
and concluded by ordering the chief scribe to read the 
letter which he had written to Her Majesty. This letter, 
which was afterwards sent to Mr. Rassam to he translated 
into English, was to the effect that the King had for- 
given the European prisoners and made them over to 
Mr. Rassam ; but the exact contents were not at this time 
made public." 


Mr. Rassam does not give here any particulars respect- 
ing the liberation of the captives ; but in the letter from 
Colonel Merewether to the Earl of Clarendon, which was 
read in the House of Lords on April 23rd, 186G, as has 
already been narrated*, it is said that " a few hours after 
his first interview with His Majesty, the latter ordered 
the release of all the European prisoners, including the 
missionaries and the Frenchmen, and directed that they 
should all be made over to Mr. Rassam to take out with 
him from Abyssinia, which country he hoped to leave 
about the end of March. The King sent his chamberlain 
to Magdala to unfetter the prisoners and to bring them to 
meet Mr. Rassam at Debra Tabor, to which place the 
latter and his companions were proceeding from the court, 
then in Godjam, and where he expected to receive the re- 
leased captives about the end of February "f- 

Mr. Rassam's own report contmues as follows : — 

" The afternoon of the same day had been appointed for 
receiving the presents which Mr. Rassam had brought. 
He accordingly, about 5 p.m., brought the presents, and 
after making a suitable speech presented them to the 
King. His Majesty appeared much pleased, and after 
making an appropriate answer said that he accepted the 
gifts, not for their value, but for the sake of the giver, and 
in token of the renewal of friendship between himself and 
the British nation. 

" Next morning (Jan. 30) the King intimated to Mr. 

Rassam that he intended him to go to Korata, where he 

was to wait till the prisoners should be brought from ]\Iag- 

dala. Korata is a large town situated on the extreme limit 

* See pajio 140. t ' Tiint's,' ,VpriI '2i, 18(30. 


of the soutli-east side of the Lake Tsana, at an elevation 
of about GOOO feet above the sea"^ ; and the Emperor had 
chosen it as the residence of his visitors on account of the 
cool breeze from the lake^ and because they could there 
pass their time in fishing and shooting. They afterwards 
found the climate of Korata neither very hot nor very cold, 
the temperature averaging 75° [Falir.] in the day and 55° 
[Fahr.] at night, but they did not find it as imdgorating 
as they expected. 

" His Majesty had determined to accompany them on 
their way for one or two stages, and accordingly marched 
that morning as far as Sakala, accompanied by the whole 
army, estimated at about 45,000 fighting men, with about 
an equal number of followers, male and female. The 
whole army is divided into four divisions, which always 
encamp round the Court in separate regiments, the fa- 
vourite division being placed on the right side of the King. 
Most of the troops on this occasion had not their tents 
with them; so that every day the soldiers had to build 
grass huts for themselves f. These huts are constructed 
with wonderful rapidity, and with great attention to order 
and neatness, the huts of the privates being arranged in a 
circle, with the huts or tents of the officers in the centre. 
Every time they march, thovigh it be only for a mile or 
two, tlie soldiers set fire to their huts, so that on leaving a 
place hardly any trace of the encampment is left. 

* The text lias " GOO feet," by mistake. The elevation of I.ake 
Tsana, on the shore of which Korata is situate, is 6250 feet above the 

t As a rule, the soldiers have no tents, but make godjotj, or huts 
of branches of trees covered with grass or straw, as described by Mr. 

"rebel" districts wasted. MAIUII OF TIIK AKMV. 189 

" On the morning of the 31st they marched IVoni 
Sakala to Bugata in the Mctcha district. The King's 
tent was here pitched on the top of a high hill overlooking 
parts of the districts of Damot and Mctcha. These un- 
happy districts are under the Avrath of His Majesty for 
having proved rebellious ; and consequently he has deter- 
mined to destroy them, and leave them a waste as a warn- 
ing to the disobedient." 

Alas ! the same sad story was told by M. Lejean in 
1863*^ and has been repeated every year since. Will no 
one take warning besides the inhabitants of those un- 
happy districts ? 

" For the first two days of the march Mr. Rassam and 
his companions had followed in the rear of the army. As 
the King found that they had been considerably incon- 
venienced by the crowding and turmoil of the troops, he 
on the third day (1st February) invited them to ride Avith 
him at the head of the army. The King rides most grace- 
fully, and it was a fine sight to see the whole army follow- 
ing him at a rapid pace, stopping when he stopped, and 
turning to the right or the left as he turned, as though 
the movements of this great mass had been directed by 
machinery. Those who rode with His Majesty w^ere Ras 
Engeda, Mr. Rassam, Dr. Blanc, Mr. Prideaux, Samuel, 
and the King's arm-bearers. On the march the King 
showed himself extremely kind and hospitable, sending 
them rations from his kitchen, and directing their tent to 
be pitched near his own, on a spot which he himself 
pointed out. 

"Next day (2nd February) they marched soon after 
* See page 92. 


sunrise, and about 1000 yards from the camping ground 
came to tlie River Abai (the source of the Blue Nile). His 
jMajesty crossed the river on foot, and made Mr. Rassam 
and his companions ride ; but as Mr. Rassam's mule found 
it difficult to carry him up the opposite bank, which was 
steep, the King told him to dismomit, and, while he was 
trying to climb the bank, condescendingly caught him by 
the arm and pulled him up, saying in Ai'abic, ^ lb shin, la 
takhaf,' that is, ' Be of good clieer, be not afraid.' He 
then remained standing on the bank till he saw the road 
made sufficiently good for the army to pass. This day 
they halted at Omka, where there was a tremendous shower 
of rain. The thunder and lightning were frightful. 

" Next day (3rd February) the march was in the direc- 
tion of Agaumider, the last district through which the 
mission had passed before reaching the King. The King 
on this day conversed with Mr. Rassam on various topics 
— the American war, the Ashantee war, the barbarity of 
the King of Dahomey, and the Government of Madagascar. 
He also said to him, ' The reason I did not at first give 
you an answer was, because, since the death of Messrs. 
Plowdeu and Bell, all the English and Franks who visited 
my country proved to be insincere, ill-mannered, ill-bc- 
liaved, and ill-tempered. I said to myself, I must not 
see this English agent before I find out that he is of a 
different temperament from those who created a breacli 
between me and your Queen, my friend. Your patience 
in waiting so long for an answer convinced me of your 
worth ; and now, as you have happily established the re- 
newal of friendship between my country and England, I 
wisli you to carry to your Queen, my friend, and to lier 


council, my anxiety to cultivate the friendship of England, 
which I have longed for ever since I ascended the throne 
of Abyssinia.'" 

Here, again, all that is represented by Mr. Ilassam as 
having actually been said by the Emperor of Abyssinia to 
himself as the Envoy of Her Britannic Majesty, we arc 
bound to accept as having actually been said. 

As regards the compliments paid to that gentleman 
on account of his " patience in waiting so long for 
an answer," whereby the Emperor Theodore had been 
" convinced of his worth/' if his vanity would allow 
him to accept them as a satisfactory apology for his 
twelve months' detention at Massowah, there is really 
nothing to be said against it. 1 would however prefer 
to give Mr. Rassam credit for more good sense, and 
to imagine that as a well-trained courtier he maintained 
a becoming gravity, without appearing in the least to 
doubt the truth of anything the Emperor might think 
fit to say. 

But when Mr. Rassam noted down that monarch's un- 
qualified assertions respecting the unfortunate captives, 
throwing upon them the blame of having " created a 
breach between him and oiu' Queen," he cannot be ex- 
cused for putting such falsehoods into circulation without 
a word of dissent or protest, and thus as it were vouching 
for their truth. 

Moreover the reason alleged for the Emperor's not 
having given Mr. Rassam an answer at first is worse 
than untrue : it is absurd on the face of it. Who are 
"all the English and Franks who have visited Abyssinia 
and proved to be insincere, ill-mannered, ill-behaved, 


and ill-tempered " ? Never was there in the mind of 
the Emperor or of any one else a thought of ill-conduct 
on the part of any of the Europeans resident in Abys- 
sinia till after his quarrel with Consul Cameron ; which 
quarrel however was not at all on account of that ofi&cer's 
personal misbehaviour, but was occasioned by the ill 
feeling of the Emperor towards the Government whose 
representative Consul Cameron has the great misfor- 
tune to be. And how many Europeans are there not 
still in Abyssinia, both " English " and " Frank " (that 
is to say, Protestant and Roman Catholic),^ who con- 
tinue to enjoy that monarches favour and protection? 
Such an assertion then, let it emanate from whom it 
may, is absurd from its attempt to prove too much. 

* In page 77 of a work published in 18G0, entitled ' Notes from 
tlie Journal of F. M. Flad, one of Bishop Gobat's Pilgrim jNIission- 
aries,' is the following note : — " By Englishman an Abyssinian un- 
derstands not an English subject, but a Protestant as distinct fi-om a 
Frenchman, by which he understands a Roman Catholic." On this I 
must remark that it is not so much the Abyssinians themselves who 
understand the expression " Englishman " in that sense, as it is the 
Germans under English protection who wish them so to understand 
it. The character of England, as a nation, has not been raised 
thereby in the estimation of the natives ; for they say that the " En- 
glishmen" who formerly visited their country were independent per- 
sons, who by travelling in Abyssinia benefited the princes and the 
inhabitants, whereas they are now poor persons who come to work 
in their ser\ace and get their living at their expense. But the Em- 
peror evidently does not distinguish between Protestants and IJoman 
Catholics. He has both in his employ; and in his estimation, as 
may be seen from his proclamation in page 125, and also from Mr. 
Stem's letters in the Appendix, they are all Freyidjotj or Franks. 
In the more remote provinces, where Europeans are little known, 
they are all called Gchtsofj (plural of Gchid) or Copts — that is to say, 
Christians, in contradistinction to Turkotj, or Turks, meaning IMo- 


In a former Chapter ^' it has been shown how the mis- 
sionaries Stern and Rosenthal fell into disgrace. I have 
now to adduce the case of the latest victim of Thcodore^s 
malice against the British Government — a person whose 
name has never been brought prominently forward, and 
yet who, taking all the circumstances into consideration, 
must be regarded as having been more unfortunate than 
any of the other captives, because there really does not 
appear to have been the slightest cause of complaint 
against him, except that he was a British subject and con- 
nected with Her Majesty^s Consul. 

Mr. Lawrence Kerans, a son of Dr. Kerans of Alias- 
cragh, in county Galway, went out to Abyssinia in the 
year 1863, to fill the post of Secretary to Consul Cameron. 
As has been akeady relatedf, he was the bearer of de- 
spatches from the Foreign Office, and by ill fortune ar- 
rived at Gondar on November 22nd, 18G3. Owing to 
the contents of the despatches of which Mr. Kerans hap- 
pened to be the bearer, our Consul, who " had previously 
had his hands half-bound," had them "bound altogether." 
How Mr. Kerans himself was treated at that particular 
juncture does not anywhere appear, though, as being 
the bearer of the obnoxious documents which caused his 
principal to be imprisoned, it is not to be imagined that 
he, the subordinate, fared much better. At all events, 
on January 4th, 1864, only six weeks after his arrival, 
when he could hardly have had time to mauifcst many 
of the bad qualities imputed to all Europeans antecedent 
to Mr. Bassam, Mr. Kerans was put in chains ; and so 
he remained till February, 1866 (nearly six-and- 
* Chapter VII., pages 113-117. t See page 122. 



twenty months) ^ Avlicn he was Hbcrated with the rest, — 
though only to he incarcerated again, on Mr. Kassam's 
account, in less than six months afterwards ! 

Here is what this much-to-he-pitied young man Avrote 
to his parents when he had been a prisoner only eighteen 
months : — 

" Amba Magdala, July \4:th, 1865. 

" My DEAREST Father and Mother, — I have with 
much delight this morning, for the first time these last 
two years, received news from home. I am glad to hear 
you are all weU. Noav, dear father and mother, you must 
be very anxious to know how we are getting on. To be- 
gin with, / am now a year and six months in prison, with 
chains of 20 lbs. weight on the legs ; and lately the right 
hand has been attached to the feet. You cannot imagine 
what fearful sufferings I ha\e to go through every day ; 
it has been much worse ivith us before than it is now, but 
still it is a sad torment. Our only hope is in God, wlio 
has delivered us many times when we were at the point of 
death, and I trust still (no matter how gloomy it now 
appears) He will ere long deliver us, I can't write all 1 
wish about our imprisonment, as it might cause great 
danger to me and my fellow captives. Hoping I may yet 
live to see all who are near and dear to me, I remain, 
dearest father and mother, ever your affectionate son, 

" Lawrence Kerans, 
" Secretary to Consul Cameron. 

" There are here in chains, besides myself, Consul Ca- 
meron, the Rev. H. A. Stern, Mr. llosenthal, M'Kilvie, 
Makerer, and Pietro; and Mrs. Rosenthal and cliild not 
in chains." 



Mr. Stern has thus explained what the diaracter of 
these hand- and foot-eliaiiis is : — " This art of tormenting 
(which is aserihed to the wise King of Israel) is a most 
cruel invention, particularly when, as in our case, the 
fetters are so short, that one is actually bent double and 
unable to move about by day or to stretch one^s weary 
limbs by night ^'*; and Mr. Rosenthal, whilst corrobo- 
rating Mr. Stern^s statement by saying, " Hand- and foot- 
irons were put on us in such a manner that we could 
not stand upright/' adds '' My fetters were of a specially 
cruel construction. Usually the manacles are separated 
by two or three links of chain ; mine, however, constantly 
kept my feet within one-eighth of an inch close together, 
and when I desired to move I was obliged to crawl upon 
both hands and feet "*. 

From a drawing made by M. Bardel, I am enabled 
to give in the Frontispiece an illustration of the attitude 
in which these wretched sufferers, when thus chained 
hand and foot, had to pass so many mouths of torture 
and misery ; whilst below is a representation of the Abys- 
sinian slave leg-shackles, drawn by myself when in that 

country, which will serve to explain the peculiar punish- 
ment inflicted on Mr. Rosenthal. In a footnote is 
given my description of these slave-shackles, published 

* See Mrx Rosentliars letter in the Appendix. 

() 2 


in 'The Friend of the African' for June 1844*, on Avhich 
I have to remark that the Abyssinian slave-dealers find 
it sufficient to shackle their Shankala or negro slaves 
on the legs only, so that they have their hands free, and 
at the same time can move about "by taking short 
jumps -svith both feet close together/' whereas Mr. Ro- 
senthal, by having, like his companions in captivity, one 
hand fastened (as shown in the Frontispiece) to his leg- 
shackles, was not only bent double like them, but " was 
obliged to crawl upon both hands and feet/' 

Some time after ]\Ir. Rassam's arrival at Massowah, he 
managed to get some warm European clothing conveyed to 
the captives. But, A\athout the skill of the brothers Daven- 
port, liovv were they to pass coats and trousers over their 
shackled limbs ? Consequently they were only tantalized 
by the sight of garments which they were unable to put on. 

• " Two semicircular — or rather longer than semicircular — hoops 
of iron (a) of about one-eighth of an inch in thickness and nearly an 
inch in breadth — those for a female or child of lighter make — having 
a hole pierced at each end, are fastened together by a round iron bolt 
(6), the one end of which is flattened out so as to prevent its passing 
through the holes, and the other (likemse flattened out) is pierced 
80 as to admit of an open ring of soft iron (c) being passed through 
it, the ends of which ring are then gently beat together. It is 
scarcely necessary to add that one hoop is placed round each ankle, 
before the bolt is passed through the two from the front, so as to 
rivet them. When the shackle is to be taken off", the ends of the 
rin<T are separated by placing them on the edge of a chisel-shaped 
piece of iron, and hammering on them. These shackles are put on 
during the night, and also occasionally in the daytime, preventing the 
captive from moving otherwise than by taking short jumps with both 
feet close together; and the ring being behind, it is impossible for 
him to remove it. No chain or other restraint is considered neces- 
sary, since the distance a person could jump must necessarily be 
but very small." — Vol. ii. pp. 8-9. 


It is no wonder, then, that the wretched captives, con- 
fined and tortured as they were, should have been " ill- 
mannered, ill-behaved, and ill-tempered " — nay, that some 
of them should have become " insane,^^ as they are stated 
to have been in a letter from Mr. Rassam himself, whioli 
was read by Colonel Playfair at a Meeting of the Royal 
Geographical Society on June 25th last *, and as I have 
but too much reason to believe to be the fact from infor- 
mation obtained from other sources. In truth, it is hardly 
possible to conceive any state of mind that might not 
have been induced by this protracted confinement of a 
heterogeneous medley of persons of different nations, 
religions, characters, dispositions, habits of life, and ways 
of thinking, all crowded together — several of them loath- 
ing or hating one another intensely, yet having no 
means of withdrawing from their proximity to the ob- 
jects of their abhorrence. 

Of its outward manifestation some faint idea — and still 
only a very faint idea — may be formed from the following 
appalling statement from the pen of one of the captives : — 
" All our jjeople are half mad, and quarreling like so many 
devils. Fortunately the fit passes over after a few days 
from sheer exhaustion, or we should worry one another to 
death. The man with the longest tongue carries the day. 
The best temper in the world could not stand the wear 
and tear of this coarse, brutal life." 

Can anything be more awfid than the thoughts which 
these few words conjure up? Such a state must be far 
worse than that of our jails, our convict-prisons, or even 
the French hagnes. 

* See the ' Times/ June 27, 1866. 


Several years ago, wlien a friend of mine was preparing 
for publication a work called ' A Cry from the Middle 
Passage '*, I frequently discussed with him the details of 
the atrocious occurrences to Avhich he had occasion to re- 
fer; but, heart-rending as those details were as regards 
the physical sufferings of the wretched negro victims of 
human barbarity, I feel firmly convinced that when the 
secrets of the prison-house of Magdala shall one day be 
revealed, the entire annals of " the Middle Passage " 
can hardly furnish a case which, for the combination of 
lingering mental as well as physical torture, Avill bear 
comparison with that of the European prisoners of this 
African despot. 

In the approaching session of Parliament, will no 
Member of the Legislatui'c make " The Abyssinian 
Question " the subject of earnest and searching inquiry? 
A seat in the House of Commons is certainly a distinc- 
tion which I never coveted and with each year of my life 
have felt less ambitious of; but I must confess that, 
since I have been led by circumstances to identify myself 
with the cause of the British Captives in Abyssinia, I 
have often wished, and I cannot help at times still 
wishing, that I were so placed for a season, solely 
for the purpose of sifting to the bottom all the circum- 
stances of this complicated and still hidden question, 
the thorough understanding of which concerns not the 
fate of the aggrieved captives alone, but also the honour 
and the interests of the British nation. 

* Ldiidoii (Seeleys), ISoO. 



Mil. RASSAM's KEPOKT continued — PRESENT OF 15,000 DOLLARS — 


PLY — reasons for MR. RASSAm's REPORT — EXPECTED SUC- 

The necessity for defending the hapless captives from the 
charges so unjustly brought against them by their perse- 
cutor, and so ungenerously repeated by their would-be 
liberator, made me in the last Chapter digress from the 
consideration of the report of Mr. Rassam^'s proceedings. 
I now return to it. 

After relating the conversation between that gentleman 
and the Emperor on the 3rd of February, the narrative 
continues : — " This day^'s march brought them to Fugata, 
passing through the well-cultivated and peaceful country 
of Agaumider ; and it was most cheering to see how 
well His Majesty protected the crops of his faithful sub- 
jects, sending parties commanded by officers to guard 
the corn-fields and villages against the ravages of the 

" Next day (4th February) the King had much conversa- 
tion with Mr. Rassam, and ended by telling him that he 
proposed to send him to Korata, allowing him to choose 


whether he would stay at Korata or at Debra Tabor till 
the prisoners arrived ; and after he retired to his tent he 
sent Mr. Rassam a most polite note, informing him that 
he had sent him some guns and pistols, and also 5000 
German crowns [Austrian species-dollars of a.d. 1780] 
to spend in any manner he wished, 'except in a way 
displeasing to God.' These presents Mr. Rassam was 
obliged to accept, as he was told that it would displease 
the King if he refused them. Twice afterwards the King 
gave Mr. Rassam a present of 5000 dollars, for the same 
purpose and with the same admonition." 

In the letter from Mr. Rassam to Colonel Playfair, read 
at the Meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, to 
which allusion has already been made ■^, it is stated that 
the Emperor ^' insisted on Mr. Rassam's acceptance of 
10,000 dollars for his expenses, which our Envoy at first 
refused, but found it politic to accept and credit the sum 
to Her Majesty^s Government.^' For the reasons already 
stated in the ' Times ' of July 6th, ISGGf, I cannot but 
think it to have been most impolitic to accept any such 
present. When Consul Plowden was offered by the same 

• See page 197. 

t My words wero these : — " I feel myself, however, called upon to 
remarlt that when Mr, Rassam so complacently vaunted the excessive 
humility of the Emperor Theodore towards the Queen of England, 
and his having (as reported in the ' Times ' of the 29th of June last) 
' insisted on Mr. Rassam 's acceptance of 10,000 dollars' [Mr. liassam 
himself now saj's 15,000 dollars in all] ' for his expenses, which our 
Envoy at first refused, but found it politic to accept and credit the 
sum to Her Majesty's Government,' he can hardly have contemplated 
that such a gift was intended as a mamdladja, which in Isenberg's 
Amharic Dictionary is defined as a ' present presented by an inferior 
person to a superior,' and for which the donor expects in return not 
merely an equivalent, but something of very much greater value. So 


monarch " some hundred dollars for the expenses of his 
journey/' he replied, "that as for the money he could 
not receive it, as he was paid by his own Sovereign''*' ; at 
which Theodore does not appear to have taken offence, 
but on the contrary spoke to Mr. Plowden " in the most 
affectionate manner," and " gave orders for his honour- 
able reception everywhere as far as Massowah"t- And, 
besides, there really does not seem to have been any 
means of spending the money in a legitimate manner — 
in a way not displeasing to God ; for the Emperor would 
not allow Mr, Rassam to make presents, and himself 
supplied the mission with all they stood in need of. Ac- 
cording to that gentleman's letter to Colonel Playfair, 
" The Emperor's orders to supply Mr. Rassam with 
provisions and carriage free of expense on his way to 
the Court were carried out to the letter ; everything was 
provided on the road on the most liberal scale. Some- 
times their daily rations reached as high as 1000 loaves of 
bread J, 2 cows, 20 fowls, 500 eggs, 10 jars of milk, 10 of 
honey, &c." 

It is not at all clear therefore what Mr. Eassam could 

conscious was I of this usage in Abyssinia, that never during my long 
residence in that country would I, under any pretence, accept a pre- 
sent fi-om an inferior without first understanding what I was to give 
in return ; and whenever I asked a favour of a superior I first pre- 
sented my mamdladja. 

" It was not without a motive, then, that the Emperor Theodore 
lowered himself so exceedingly before Her Britannic Majesty in the 
person of her representative ; and the question put hypothetically on 
the 27th of April has now become a sad reality. What will Her Ma- 
jesty's Government do under existing circumstances? " 
* See page 49. t -^'<^- 

X It must not be supposed that these are European loaves. They 
are pancakes, each 4nade of a cup of batter. 


do witli these 15;000 dollars, except take them on with 
him wherever he -vveiit ; and half a ton of silver (for they 
weigh nearly as much^) is no trifle to carry about in a 
country likQ Abyssinia. In addition to this^ it may be 
presumed that Mr. Rassam had already the 15,000 dollars 
from Aden, to Avliich allusion was made in the last Chap- 
tert, in addition to money for his ordinary expenses. 

The narrative continues: — " The next day (5tli February) 
they left for Korata^ and crossed the south-eastern side 
of the lake from Wandige [Woinadagga?] and Koonsila, 
right on to the island of Dak. The Emperor afterwards 
came to Zagye, on the S.W. side of the lake, and not more 
than ten miles from Korata by water. This was after he 
had destroyed the districts of Damot and Metcha. 

^'As Mr. Rassam and his companions Avere to wait at 
Korata for the arrival of the prisoners, the Emperor sent 
to Debra Tabor and brought his European artisans to 
keep them company. Orders for the release of Mr. 
Cameron and the other prisoners were given on the 
29th of January ; but they were not released till the 24th 
of February J, owing to the difficulties of travelling.'^ 

The subsequent occurrences cannot be better related 
than in the words of Mr. Stern in a letter to his wife, 
dated Korata, March 22nd. He says, " Our manacles 
were removed on February 24th, and on the 2Gth we 

*- An Austrian species-dollar of 1780 should weigli 4.'3.3 "xrains, but 
usually does not weigh more than 430. Then 4.'}0x loOOO-^TOOO 
(the number of grains in a pound avoirdupois) =921 lbs. 

t See page IGI. 

X Consul Cameron's letter dated February 2Gth, giAen in page 145, 
says, " Oui" chains were taken oil" ycslenhii/.'' From this I couclude 
that the date of his letter was really the 2oth. 


quitted the rocky heights on whicli avc liad been con- 
fined for sixteen interminable months. Two davs Ave 
remained encamped at the foot of Amba Magdala to regain 
some strength, as several of us, myself among the num- 
ber, could scarcely stand upright, much less ride any con- 
siderable distance. Freedom, change of air, and the luxury 
of unshackled hands and feet, however, eflfected a Avon- 
derful alteration in our exhausted and enervated frames. 
On the 7th inst. we reached Gaffat, where Mr. Flad and 
our former fellow prisoners gave us a most cordial recep- 
tion. We remained one night with these friends, and 
then in company started for Korata, the temporary home 
of Mr. Rassam, and in the vicinity of the royal camp. 
From the kindness and attention we experienced as we 
advanced on our journey, hope, so long deadened in our 
hearts, began again to revive, and visions of liberty (to 
which for more than two years we had been strangers) 
again brightened our future. Our enterprising, excellent 
friend, Mr. Rassam received us with that cautious cold- 
ness ivhich our mutual position rendered indispensable. 
Messengers were despatched the same night to announce 
our arrival to His Majesty ; and on the morning of the 
15th inst., a complete reconciliation was effected, before 
Mr. Rassam and royal delegates, between the King and 
his white prisoners. We are now waiting with yearning 
impatience for the permission to leave Abyssinia — a ques- 
tion which is still subject to the variable mood of His 

Of the released prisoners, Mr. Rassam^s report says, 
" They arrived safely at Korata on the 12tli March. 
^Ir. Cameron was at first very weak, but rapidly im- 


proved ; all the rest were in perfect health. Eighteen 
prisoners^ including tliree children^ were made over by 
the Emperor to Mr. llassam^ to be conducted to Aden, or 
to Egypt if they Avent via Khartoum. The prisoners 
who were in chains at Magdala were four English (one 
of them the wife of Mr. Rosenthal), two Germans, two 
Frenchmen, and one Italian ; and the persons who were 
detained at Gaffat, near Debra Tabor, were six Germans 
(one of them the wife of Mr. Flad), and the three chil- 
dren of the latter.^' 

The following is a list of the released prisoners issued 
from the Foreign Office to the newspapers, arranged 
here according to their nationalities. 

Prisoners who were in chains at Magdala. 

Mr. C. D. Cameron, Her Britauuic Majesty's Consul . 

Mr. L. Kerans, late Secretary of Mr. C. D. Cameron \ ^ . . 

Mr. Pw McKelvey*, late senrant of do f ^^S^^^' 

Mrs. E. Rosenthal ) 

Rev. H. A. Stem, JMissionai^ t I n> 

TT -r. 1 •, Tr- . \ Germans. 

H. Rosenthal, Missionary I 

J. Makerer, servant of Consul Cameron | -ci i 

* -r. 1 1 P , • . \ Frenchmen. 

A. iJardel, lormerly m service of do I 

D. Pietro, late servant of Consul Cameron Italian. 

Prisoners who were detained at Gaffat. 

W. Steiger, Missionary 1 

T. Brandeis, Missionary .' . 

^ * , ' / Natural History Collectors 

J. Essler, i ^ 

J. M. Flad, Missionary S>Germaus. 

Mrs. P. Had 

A. Flad, "^ 

Fr. Flad, ^Children of the above Mr. and Mrs. Flad 

P. Flad, J 

* This name has hitherto appeared as McKilvie. 
t As stated in page 157, Mr. Stem is the bearer of a Foreij^m 
Office passport, iu which he is described as a British subject. 


Mr. Rassara's narrative then continues as follows : — 
" During the whole of this time the Emperor treated Mr. 
Rassam with the greatest kindness and consideration. 
He would not allow him to make presents to any of the 
people of the Court who had been kind and civil, but said, 
' Keep your money for other of my people who render you 
service, my friend ; but if you wish to make any present 
to those of my household, let me know the sum, and I 
wdll pay it to them on your part.^ He however con- 
sented to allow him to invest those of his household with 
silk garments. 

" He gave general orders that the servants of the Court 
should pay to Mr. Rassam the homage due to the re- 
presentative of his friend the Queen of England ; and 
therefore when they presented themselves before him 
they always knelt and touched the ground with their 
foreheads. And when Mr. Rassam arrived by water at 
Korata, nearly sixty priests dressed in canonicals came 
out on the beach to meet him, bearing the symbols of the 
Abyssinian Church, chanting hymns and praying for him. 
And this they did because the Emperor had commanded 
that they should receive Mr. Rassam with the same ho- 
nours as they would accord to himself. Every one there- 
fore, whether European or Abyssinian, admitted that no 
sovereign could be more attentive and gracious to the 
representative of a foreign government than Theodoras of 
Abyssinia was to Mr. Rassam.^' 

Nothing can be further from my desire than to say 
anything unkind of Mr. Rassam in his present unfortunate 
position. Still the historian has to deal with facts, and 
I cannot avoid regarding it as a fact that that gentleman 


allowed himself to be completely deceived by the outward 
forms of kindness and respect on the part of the Em- 
peror Theodore and his people ; of Avhom he appears to 
have formed an entirely erroneous estimate. Doubtless 
his mistake was in part due to defects on his own side. 
Mr. Rassani may be all that my friend Sir William 
Coghlan says of him ^, when at Aden, at Muscat, or at 
any other place du-ectly under British influence and im- 
mediately within the range of British power; but, as 
was objected by the present Lord Chancellor (Lord 
Chelmsford) in the House of Lords on April 27th, 1865, 
when first calling attention to the subject of the British 
Captives in Abyssinia, Mr. Rassam, though a man of 
great experience and ability, is "just the sort of person 
who ought not to have been selected for the purpose ; and 
the consequences were just such as might have been ex- 
pected "t- This was said almost oracularly; for at that 

* See page loG. 

t See the * Times ' of April 28th, 18G5. The following discussion 
in the House of Lords on February 10th, 186G, more than nine months 
later, is deserving of heing recorded here, for other reasons besides its 
bearing on the subject of Mr. Ilassam : — 

''The Earl of Clarendon. — The first we heard, not of the impri- 
sonment, but of the detention of Consul Cameron, came by rumour 
through Egj-pt. It was then to be considered in what niaunov 
we should proceed — whether by force or negotiation, in order to 
effect the liberation of the prisoners. Now, to attempt to send 
an armj/ across that decully plain which separates Abi/ssinia from 
the sea, and to penetrate into the interior of the country through 
mountain passes and difficulties unknown, without any basis of ope- 
rations or means of obtaininy supplies, tvould hare been a vain and 
idle endeavour. In such case the Emperor would have can-ied his 
prisoners further into the interior or woidd have massacred them, 
while we should have sacrificed many thousand lives. Next came 
the question how should an attempt be mad(i to attain the desired 


time, now nineteen months ago, the only cause of com- 
plaint was Mr. Rassam's long stay at Massowah with- 
out making any advance. 

Perhaps a more cogent reason for Mr. Rassam's mis- 
take may be his having regarded the Abyssinians as 

object by negotiation. The noble lord said tliat if he had been 
responsible for the matter, he would have sent out an important 
mission headed by a man of rank. I think he would have done no 
such thing ; for it is likely that the members of that mission would 
have shared the same fate as Consul Cameron. We have evidence for 
believing that the Emperor of Abyssinia supposed that by keeping 
these men prisoners he would compel the British Government to adopt 
his policy. Therefore I think that every man belonging to such a 
mission as the noble lord suggested would have been thrown into 
chains ; and I need not say how much the difficulties of the case woidd 
have been aggravated by such an event. That Consul Cameron had 
fallen into a state of captivity was his own fault ; but if the Queen had 
sent from this country an important mission, and if all the members 
of it had been thro-wu into chains, it would then have been necessary 
to adopt every measm-e to obtain their release, or the prestige of Eng- 
land would have been at an end throughout the East. In thecase of 
the present prisoners we had to decide on the selection of an efficient 
agent, and our choice fell on Mr. Rassam. I am at a loss to account 
for the hostility of the noble and learned lord towards Mr. Eassam. 

" Lord Chelmsford. — I have invariably said that I had no doubt 
Mr. Rassam was a man of very great ability. My only objection to 
bis appointment was — and I considered it a conclusive objection — that 
he was not a European. 

'' The Earl of Clarendon. — The noble and learned lord has always 
contended that he was an imfit person to be sent out on his present 

" Lord Chelmsford. — Only on that ground. 

" The Earl of Clarendon. — The language of the noble and learned 
lord was, I maintain, calculated to lead the Emperor of Abyssinia, if 
his words reached him, to think that to send Mr. Rassam on this 
mission was an insult towards him on the part of this country. The 
noble and learned lord and the press have thus, I am sorry to say, 
done their best to second the failure of that mission." — ' Times,' 
February 10, 1866. 


an Eastern rather than as a Western people; who, cor- 
ruptcdj debased, and half-savage as they have become, 
are still Western in their religion, their laws, and in 
what little of literature and science they still retain. 
For it must always be borne in mind that, in addition 
to the Scriptui'es, both of the Old and of the New Tes- 
tament, which they enjoyed when most of the nations 
of Europe were pagan savages, their code of laws is 
substantially that of the Roman Empire, on which all 
our modern European legislation is based; Avhilst they 
derived from the Greek school of Alexandria whatever 
other learning they once possessed, and of which some 
traces, however faint, may still be detected among them. 
What nation on the face of the globe is there, then, 
whose ideas must necessarily possess so much in com- 
mon with those of the now civilized nations of the 
West, on accomit of the sources whence their ideas 
were derived in common, as this remote and neglected 
ruin of the great and powerful Christian Empire of 

The narrative continues : — " The Emperor wished to 
see the released prisoners for the purpose of asking them 
l)cfore Mr. Rassam whether he was not right in what 
he did to them, in consequence of their misbehaA iour. 
But Mr. Rassam, fearing that their presence would ir- 
ritate the Emperor, begged him to dispense with their 
presence. The Emperor accordingly agreed that Mr. 
Rassam should hold a court in his tent, and have the 
charges read out to the released prisoners before all 

* Of the groat power of Ethiopia in the sixtli century of our era a 
striking instance is given in the footnote in page 177. 


the European artisans of Gaffat, and before a nuni"l)er 
of the principal Abyssinian officers. The chief Amharic 
scribe read out the charges. Then all the released priso- 
ners confessed that they had done wrong, and begged tliat 
His Majesty would forgive them as a fellow Christian. 
Afterwards the Emperor wrote to Mr. Rassam, and asked 
him to judge between him and the released prisoners: ' If 
I have done them wrong let me know^ and I will remune- 
rate them. But if you find them in fault, I will give them 
back my love.'' " 

Mr. Rassam has not mentioned what answer he gave 
to the Emperor^s request that he ^^ should judge be- 
tween him and the released prisoners/^ though there 
can be little difficulty in deciding what that answer 
must have been, if, as is stated, " all the released pri- 
soners confessed that they had done wrong." But even 
then, it is essential to know the extent of the '' wrong " 
to vrhieh they or any of them pleaded guilty. On this 
point a recent correspondence in the ' Record ' news- 
paper is very apposite and instructive. 

The impression of that joiu'nal of July lltli, 1866, con- 
tains the following article : — 

" We are requested by the Secretary of the Gobat 
Fund to publish the following extract from a letter of Mr. 
"Waldmeier to Bishop Gobat, dated Quarata"^ (Abyssinia), 
20th March, 1866. "We accede to his request, leaving 
out how^ever some passages which are uncalled for, and 
can do no good ; but in doing so we undertake no rc- 

* Korata. This name is variously spelled, owing to the difficult}' 
of representing with English letters the native sounds in the three 
Amharic characters, Kwe-ra-tsa. Mr. Waldmeier spells his own 
name as above, not Waldmeyer as printed. 



sponsibility for the truth of its contents. In the absence 
of authentic intelligence from the captives themselves, 
we can neither judge of the probability of the confession 
attributed to ]\Ir. Stern, nor estimate the importance to be 
given to it. 

" ' Three weeks ago the King ordered us to come to 
Quarata, a to^vn on the south-east coast of the lake Zana. 
Mr. Rassam has already spent a month here, where we 
have had the great pleasure of making his and his com- 
panions^ personal acquaintance. Mr. Rassam has been 
sent by the British Government with the \aew of effecting 
the liberation of ]Mr. Cameron, Consul at Massowah, and 
was at the same time ordered by the Queen to endeavour 
to set the captive missionaries and other Europeans at 
liberty. Mr. Rassam is a prudent and kind man, and by 
great precaution and patience he has so far perfectly suc- 
ceeded. The King has delivered all the liberated prisoners 
into his hands, saying that he did it for the sake of 
friendship between England and Abyssinia ; to which he 
added : — " The friendship between Abyssinia and England 
has been disturbed by the Europeans who came to my land 
with the devil in their hearts, who abused me, speaking 
all kinds of evil against me ; but now the Great Queen of 
England having sent a great man — Mr. Rassam — to me 
with a friendly letter, I have set Mr. Cameron and all 
the Europeans at liberty, desiring a cordial and solid 

" ' Last week there was a kind of assize in Mr. Rassam's 
tent, at the order of the King, to which we of Gaffat, 
that is, Elad and our brethren, together with the liberated 
prisoners, were called. The written accusations of the 


King against Captain Cameron, M. Bardel, and the mis- 
sionaries, Messrs. Stern and Rosenthal, were publiely 
read ; upon whieh the aceused confessed their guilt before 
the whole audience. Mr. Stern, especially, said in the 
name of all of them, " We have done wrong against the 
King, and we have received our just reward. We thank 
the King (who was not present) for having pardoned us, 
and we pray to Grod that He may prolong the life of his 
Majesty, prosper his kingdom, and subdue his enemies 
under him.'^ This closed the judicial conference, and its 
result was communicated to the King, who expressed his 
joy and satisfaction.'" 

The remainder of Mr. Waldmeier's letter is immaterial 
to the present question, and therefore will not be quoted 

The insertion of this letter (which even on the editor's 
own showing was hardly justifiable) brought the following 
reply from Mr. Purday, Mr. Stern's father-in-law, which 
appeared in the same paper on the 21st of the same 
month, addressed to the editor : — 

" In your Supplement to the ' Record ' of Wednesday 
last, July 11th, you publish 'Extracts from a letter to 
Bishop Gobat ' from one of the good Bishop's artisan 
missionaries in Abyssinia, Mr. Waldmeier, on which you 
very properly remark, 'We undertake no responsibility 
for the truth of the contents.' Now, Sir, as the natural 
guardian of Mr. Stern's family in his unfortunate absence, 
I feel called upon to make some comments on these ' Ex- 
tracts,' and I do so the more readily as I am in possession 
of the facts of the case. Mr. Waldmeier says, that ' a sort 
of assize was held in Mr. Rassam's tent, when written 

p 2 


accusations were read against Consul Cameron, Monsieur 
Bardel^ and the missionaries, Messrs. Stern and Rosen- 
thal.'' As one proof of tlie accuracy of this statement, I 
am told by an eye and ear witness, that Messrs. Stern 
and RosenthaFs names were not even mentioned, nor did 
they make any ' confession of their guilt.' My informant 
also adds that Mr. Stern never used the words put into 
his mouth, ' We have received our just reward' ^, or any- 
thing that might be construed into such an idea. Mr. 
Stern was put forward as the organ of the captives and 
other Europeans to say what was necessary, and Mr. 
Waldmeier, who was present, readily assented to what 
was said. Mr. Stern spoke in English, that he might not 
be misunderstood by those who understood that language, 
and what he did say was literally translated into Amharic 
for the benefit of the Abyssinians present, and was to the 
following effect : — ' That they all regretted having used 
any expressions that were considered derogatory to the 
dignity of His Majesty the King of Abyssinia ; and they 
all most humbly begged His Majesty^s pardon for their 
offence, thanking His Majesty at the same time for his 
most gracious pardon, and praying that the King may be 
blessed with long life and prosperity in his kingdom.' I 
can only ho])e, therefore, tliat those who have requested 
these statements to be circulated against Mr. Stern behind 
his back, have done so in ignorance of the facts, and with 
no motive of ill will against that long-suflFering and ill- 
used missionary .'' 

I have thought it best to let the case be stated by 

• All these italics are Mr. Purday's. I am told that this " eye and 
ear witness " was Mi*. Flad, who acted as interpreter on the occasion. 


the parties themselves, and so to leave it; with this 
single word of commeut only, tliat I believe Mr. Wald- 
meier's intention, in v^riting as he did, Avas not to 
injure Mr. Stern, but simply to cry up that " great 
man — Mr. Rassam,^^ who was then in the ascendant, 
and whose departm'c, "together with those to whom he 
had been a saviour,^^ — to use Mr. Waldmeier's fulsome 
and unseemly language — he and his companions were for 
various reasons most anxious to accelerate. 

As regards Mr. Eassam, of whom I would wish to 
speak with every consideration, it appears to me, as it 
will doubtless be apparent to most of the readers of these 
pages, that when he made to Government his communi- 
cation of March 22nd last, of which an abstract has been 
here given, he entertained the firm conviction that he was 
on the eve of his departure from Abyssinia in triumph 
with the liberated captives. It was therefore only natural 
that he should announce beforehand the circumstances 
under which their liberation had been effected; and it 
would doubtless have been regarded by his employers, 
and even by the public, as a venial fault, if in doing so 
he should have represented matters in the light most 
favourable to himself, and likewise to the British Govern- 
ment, whose agent he was, and whose exoneration from 
blame was as much an object of his mission as the de- 
liverance of the prisoners themselves. 

Had success crowned his efforts, all would have been 
well. The statement attributed to the Emperor that the 
friendship of England towards him had been proved by 
Mr. Rassam^s " patience and good conduct,"' would not 
merely have been allowed to pass unquestioned, but 


would have been accepted as his complete exoneration 
from blame on account of his delay at Massowah; and 
his " good conduct/^ and yet more his ingenuity, would 
no doubt have entitled him to a rich reward. 

The truth of the Emperor's alleged charges against 
Consul Cameron and the missionaries no one would pro- 
bably have cared to dispute except the parties concerned. 
And what could they have said or done ? 

It would have availed Mr. Stern and Mr. Rosenthal but 
little had they attempted to explain that the ejfect was 
made the cause — the cart truly put before the horse ; that 
what they had written would never have become known to 
the Emperor and his spies, but for the unfortunate posi- 
tion in which they and the other Europeans were j)laced 
in consequence of the Emperor's quarrel with the repre- 
sentative of the British Government; and that it was, 
besides, intended for their own private use only. They 
would have been told by all, even by their friends, 
that they had erred in not following the advice of the 
Preacher, " Curse not the king, no not in thy thought, 
and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber"*; and they 
would have been told further, and would no doubt 
themselves have felt, that they had only too much reason 
to be deeply grateful for their final deliverance, by what- 
ever means, from their protracted captivity, and that 
under the circumstances the best thing for them to do 
would be to follow Earl Russell's excellent advice, and 
to "rest and be thankful." Added to which, the feel- 
ing of the injustice done them would by degrees have 
worn off, when compensated, and more than compen- 
* Eccles. X. 20. 


sated, by their restoration to the arms of their families, 
and by the sympathy and regard of their admiring 
friends and well-wishers. 

For Consul Cameron, the inducement to hold his 
tongue and take on himself the blame of all he has done 
or not done as the agent of Government, is one which 
is infallible in cases of the sort. Notwithstanding the 
displeasure of Her Majesty's Government incurred by 
that officer on account of his visit to Bogos*, of the 
general disapproval of his proceedings in Abyssinia for- 
mally communicated to him by Earl Russell f, of the 
stoppage of his pay and allowances for u.pwards of two 
years, and of the obloquy which has been so repeatedly 
cast on him within the walls of Parliament and without, 
it has been intimated by Earl Russell in his despatch to 
Colonel Stanton, of October 5th, 1865, that all the de- 
linquent's imputed offences are condoned ; for that " he 

* See page 95. 

t See pages 104 and 122. In page 129 it is stated that in the 
beginning of January 18G4, when arrangements had nearly been 
made for Mr. Flad's departure with letters to procure machines and 
gunpowder-makers, Consul Cameron applied for leave to go to his 
post at Massowah in pursuance of orders from the British Govern- 
ment. Those orders, which through an oversight were omitted to be 
inserted in their proper place, are here given. They were contained 
in the following despatch from Earl Russell : — 

" Foreign Office, September 8th, 1863. 

" Sir, — I have received from Her Majesty's Agent and Consul- 
General in Egypt your despatches of the 20th May last ; and I have 
to state to 'you that Her Ilajesty's Government do not cqyprove your 
proceedings in Abyssinia, nor your suggestions founded upon them. 

" I have only to desire that you will abstain from all interference in 
the internal affairs of that country, and that you will remain at your 
post at Massowah, whither you were ordered by my despatch of the 
22nd of April last, to return and reside. " I am, &c., 

" Russell." 


ivill be employed hereafter in a different part of the 
world, and will never have occasion to return to Abys- 



Whether this tardy retribution will ever avail anything 
to that much ill-used man is very questionable. Still it 
is to be hoped that it afforded some consolation in her 
agony to his aged mother (the widow of Colonel Came- 
ron, late of the Buff's), who, worn out by care and 
anxiety for her beloved son, breathed her last on the 
morning of November 2nd, 1865, the day after this 
virtual vindication of his character had appeared in all 
the newspapers. 

Unfortunately the elaborate fabric raised with so much 
care and ingenuity has fallen to the ground, like a house 
built by a child with a pack of cards ; and '' the Abys- 
sinian Question,'^ which it was attempted to cover and 
hide from the public sight, stands exposed in all its naked 
hideousness. Mr. Steiger, writing from Gaffat in Decem- 
ber 1864-, went to the core of the matter when he said, 
" We are state prisoners, and shall probably remain such 
until the political diff'erences between England and the 
King of Abyssinia come to a satisfactory conclusion ^^ t : 
after the second imprisonment of all the captives, together 
with Mr. Rassam himself, in July 1866, as will have to 
be related J, that gentleman, when communicating the 
sad intelligence to Her Majesty^s Government, could 
hardly have expressed himself diff'ercntly. 

* Parliamentary Paper, 18GG, 'Further Con-espondence,' &c., 
p. r,3. 

t ' Record,' Sept. G, 18G5. J See page 234. 


CilAPTKK Xlll. 


FOB iriM — nia lettkks to thk author — CAPTIVKS 8TAUT 




Aftkr what }ias heon related in the preceding Chapter, 
it seems almost a mockery to give the conclusion of Mr. 
Rassahri's report. It is in these words : — '' Further, the 
Emperor ordered the translation of Her Majesty^s letter 
and his answer thereto to be read publicly by the chief 
scribe. Tlien all heard what had been written in his 
letter. In the letter His Majesty a-sks that what has 
been done may be forgiven, and says, ' In my humble 
position I am not worthy to address your Majesty; but 
illustrious princes and the deep ocean can bear anything. 
I, being an ignorant Etliiopian, ho]jc that your Majesty 
will overlook my shortcomings and pardon my offences;' 
and the letter ends thu>s : — 'Counsel me, but do not 
blame me. Queen, whose Majesty God has glorified, and 
to whom He has given abundance of wisdom/ " 

At the moment when this letter to our Queen was writ- 
ten, Theodore was for a certainty in right good humour, 
and ready to say or do anything that would please Mr. 
Ilassam as Her Britannic Majesty's representative, But 
it needs scarcely be said that the words of luirnility thus 


imputed to him did not come from the heart of the ar- 
rogant and self-sufficient " King of Kings," who has of 
hite dropped the qualifjdng words " of Ethiopia," as de- 
rogatory to his transcendent dignity *. It may indeed be 
doubted whether those words ever issued from his lips. 
The expressions are hardly such as he would make use 
of; and the probability is, that, as great people often do 
in countries nearer home, he said to Mr. Rassam or some 
person in his confidence, " There, you write whatever you 
think right and proper, and I will sign it," — or, in his 
case, " I will put my seal to it." 

I have myself a letter in English from the Emperor, 
with his seal afiixed, dated May 28th, 1866, which I feel 
quite convinced never had an Amharic original, but was 
indited by Mr. Rassam t^ and sealed with the Empe- 
ror's seal, — he troubling himself little about the con- 
tents, or at all events placing implicit confidence not 
only in the writer, but likewise in the individuals 
through whom those contents would have been made 
known to him — namely, first Mr. Rassam's Moham- 
medan interpreter, and then Samuel, the Emperor's 

A copy of this second letter is given in the Appendix, 
together with a translation of the former one, written in 
reply to mine from Massowah forwarding the petition 
from the relatives of the captives. The Emperor's first 
letter was written in Amharic, unaccompanied by any 
translation into English, and must consequently be re- 

* See his proclamation in page 125, and his two letters to myself in 
the Appendix. 

t I believe the handwinting tu be that of l.icut. Prideaux. 

THE emperok's letters to the author. 219 

garded as having emanated directly from himself. Sin- 
gularly enough, it is in the hand-writing of two per- 
sons, — the one being the Emperor's secretary, Avho wrote 
the body of the letter, but was not scholar enough to 
fill in the date, which had to be done by a second 
person — namely, some learned debtera or scribe. 

I have already mentioned* how favourably the petition 
to the Emperor was received by him. As regards his 
sincerity, it is not here the place to say anything. All 
that is now necessary is to repeat the communi- 
cation made to me on the subject from Mr. Rassam 
through M. Munzinger. "Mr. Rassam," writes the 
latter gentleman, " begs me to say to you, ' The letter 
he (Dr. Beke) sent to the Emperor arrived on the 15th 
ult. ; and the day after His Majesty received it he sent 
it to me to read with the petition from the relatives of 
the prisoners. I believe the Emperor Avishes to consult 
me about the answer when I go to see him this week ; 
and I have no doubt that Dr. Beke's messenger will be 
dismissed when we leave the Court. In that case I 
shall send a messenger with him to inform you of our 
departure hence to Matamma and Kassala. I told 
them (the messengers) to bring no letters from you 
to my address.^ " 

This communication from Mr. Rassam was dated April 
9th, 1866, at which time everything bore the most 
gratifying appearance. The messenger who brought Mr. 
Rassam's letter to M. Munzinger was the bearer also 
of despatches to Colonel Merewether, who happened to 
arrive at Massowah in the ' Victoria ' on May 1 1th, 
* See page 151. 


on his way to Suez, and thus was enabled to carry the 
good news on with him. 

It was immediately reported to England by the Con- 
sul-General in Egypt, and, as usual with all favourable 
(though not with unfavourable) intelligence, it was in- 
stantly communicated by Mr. Layard to the newspapers 
in the following terms : — '^ Colonel Stanton reports from 
Alexandria, by a telegram dated Tuesday, that letters 
had arrived from Mr. Rassam, dated Korata, April 9th, 
all well ; and that later intelligence had been received at 
Massowah, according to which Mr. Rassam had crossed 
the lake to take leave of the King, while the late pri- 
soners had gone on to Gorgora, at the north end of the 
lake, where Mr, Rassam would join them, and the whole 
party would then proceed to Matamma.'' 

This appeared in public on May 23rd ; and the next 
intelligence to be expected naturally was that the whole 
party had reached the coast, and were on their way to 

Little more than a month afterwards, however, rumours 
were afloat of an unfavourable nature ; and on application 
being made to the Foreign Oflicc for information, the 
following circular letter, dated July 4th, was addressed by 
Mr, MuiTay to the relatives of the several captives, and 
was inserted by Mr. Purday, Mr, Stern^s father-in-law, 
in the ' Times ' of July 6th : — " I am directed by the Earl 
of Clarendon to inform you that a telegram has been re- 
ceived from Colonel Stanton, dated Alexandria the 29th 
ult., stating that Mr. Flad had arrived in that town, and 
was on the point of embarking in the French steamer 
for tliis country, being the bearer of despatches. The 

MR. FLAD's mission. BAD NEWS CONCEALED. 221 

Europeans had not left Abyssinia, but were Avell treated, 
the object of the King being, as is stated, to procure an 
assurance of good disposition towards him before the Eu- 
ropeans departed. Mr. Flad on his arrival will doubtless 
be able to explain how matters stand.^' 

Three days afterwards Mr. Flad arrived in London, 
bringing despatches from Mr. Rassam to Government, 
and letters from the captives to their respective relations. 
From these letters, as well as from Mr. Flad himself, 
very little was to be learned, as may be best evidenced by 
the following letter from Mr. Stern to his wife : — 

" Royal Camp, Zdgye, Lake Tsana, April \^th, 1866. 

" My DEAR Charlotte, — Your petition, together with 
that of the relatives of my companions, duly reached His 
Majesty, and at his own request was read to us on the 
17th ultimo. 

'' His Majesty was graciously pleased to give it the 
kindest consideration, and assured us that the day was not 
far distant when we would again behold those we loved. 

'' We have received a full pardon for all our past of- 
fences, on account of the King's love to the Queen of 
England and his high regard and esteem for Mr. Rassam. 
We are exceedingly grateful for this favour ; and in the 
hallowed anticipation of meeting once more those whose 
life and happiness are bound up with my own, 
" I am ever your affectionate husband, 

" Henry A. Stern." 

This letter was sent by Mr. Purday to the ' Times,^ and 
inserted in that paper on July 14th, with the following 
observations from Mr. Purday himself: — " In sending 
you this letter, I cannot but remark on its style, which 


is so different from anything Mr. Stern has hitherto 
written^ that all his family conclude it must have been 
penned under restraint, and therefore cannot be con- 
sidered as the spontaneous expression of the mind of 
this ill-used and much misrepresented man^. I may add 
that we now know for a fact, that Mr. Rassam (as well as 
the captives) is detained a prisoner until Mr. Flad, who 
has just arrived with despatches to the British Govern- 
ment, carries back to the Emperor a favourable reply.^' 

The letters from the other captives were in a similar 
tone. Mr. Rassam had evidently induced them to keep 
silent on all that had just occurred, and to continue the 
same mischievous coui^se of " making things pleasant " 
before the public, by concealing or perverting the real 
facts. As is manifest, this system of deceit is quite 
gratuitous, because sooner or later the truth must come 
out. But perhaps Mr. Bassam — or rather his employers, 
for I should be sorry to impute anything to him per- 
sonally, where he was merely following orders — may be 
of the same mind as a certain great agitator, M'ho was 
not very particular as to the truth of what he asserted, 
and who, when asked by a friend what could be the use 
of saying publicly what he knew would be contradicted 
as publicly the next day, replied, " Ah, my good friend, 
you don't know the value of a lie sometimes, if only for 
a quarter of an hour ! " 

However, in spite of all these attempts, it was not 
long in oozing out that on July 13th, only four days 
after the date of Mr. Rassam's most favourable report, 

• In a subsequent letter to his wife, dated May 2()t]i, Mr. Stern says, 
"You will of course have taken my last letter for what it was worth." 


and after the captives had left Korata for Gorgora, as 
had been announced in Colonel Stanton's telegram of 
May 22nd^, they were to their astonishment suddenly 
arrested^ fettered, and taken to Zagye, where the whole 
of them, together with Mr. Rassam and his companions, 
remained in chains for five days. 

The cause of this treatment of Mr. Rassam and the 
liberated captives, and of Mr. Mad's mission to England, 
has been thus related to me. 

At the last moment, when everything had been arranged 
between the Emperor and Mr. Rassam as to the terras of 
a fresh treaty to be entered into between Abyssinia and 
Englandf and for the departure of the released prisoners. 
His Majesty desired that before starting they should 
all cross over from Korata to Zagye to take leave of him 
personally — his object being that they might be recon- 
ciled to each other through the intervention of an 
astdraki (peace-maker or mediator) according to the 
custom of the country, as has been explained in a 
former Chapter J . Of course Mr. Rassam himself would 

* See page 220. 

t Mr. Waldmeier wi-ites, under date of March 20th last, " It is pos- 
sible, as Mr. Rassam tells me, that in consequence of some treaty 
between England and Abyssinia, there may be more liberty for Eu- 
ropeans to come to Abyssinia and leave it again at pleasure." — ' Re- 
cord/ July 11, 1866. 

X Chapter III., pages 114, 115. The following incident serves to 
show the great importance the Abyssinians attach to this reconciliation 
through a mediator. Indeed, they never " make it up " otherwise. 

Whilst my wife and I were at 'MkuUu near Massowah, being 
most anxious to leave the coast, we arranged with Kautiba 
Walda Georgis of Halai to accompany him to his place, upon his 
representation that he was the shmn of the Emperor Theodore, and 
that if the " rebels " shoidd approach he would see to oxir safe return 


have been the astdraki. With this usage that gentleman 
would appear not to have been acquainted; and fear- 
ing that ill might result from the desired interview, he 
took on himself to send the captives off to Gorgora on 

to the coast or wherever else we might wish to go. As AValda 
Georgis was well known to M. Munzinger, with whom he had busi- 
ness transactions, we believed we might trust him. But before reach- 
ing Halai we learned that he had recently gone over to the " rebels ; " 
and we foimd that his object was to extort money by frightening us 
with them, and so inducing us to require his help to get away. 

It is unnecessary to enter into the details of his iniquitous conduct, 
which ended in his getting a petty chief to arrest us at Halai, as is 
explained in my letter of April 3rd to the Emperor, given in the 
Appendix. These details will be narrated elsewhere ; and all that needs 
be said here is, that the Kantiba and I became bitter enemies, and 
that he did all in his power to injure me by reporting in Massowah 
that I was sending messengers to the "rebels," when in fact I was 
secretly corresponding with Dedjatj TeMa Georgis, the Emperor's 
lieutenant in Tigre, and with the Emperor himself. 

A few days before the arrival of the good news from Mr. Eassam of 
April 9th, which caused us to quit Abyssinia, the Kiintiba had occa- 
sion to go to Massowah, but he could not leave Halai without being 
reconciled to us. At first I refused to have anything to say to himj 
but I was so importuned that at length I allowed a native priest, 
who had been educated at Rome, to act as our mediator. Not content 
with being reconciled to myself, Walda Georgis was most urgent that 
my wife should also be a party ; and as she was within our tent, and 
not inclined to see him or even to pardon him for his infamous con- 
duct, I had to say in her name what she would not say herself. 

After this reconciliation at the hand of a Christian mediator and 
with his conscience thereby lightened, Kantiba Walda Georgis went 
down to Massowah, and there became a renegade, the rising power of 
Egj'pt in Northern Abyssinia convincing him that it would be more 
to his worldly advantage to be a Mohammedan than a Chiistian. 

Thus it was easier for him to renounce the " one Mediator between 
God and men," than to forego the supposed benefit of a human me- 
diator between man and man ! 

Since my return to England, T have been informed that Walda 
Georgis — I do not know his INIoslem name — died of cholera at Mas- 
sowah not long after his apostacy. 


their way home. The consequence was, tliat the Emperor 
suspected, as under the cu'cumstances was not unnatural, 
that Mr. E,assam wished to get them out of the country, 
and then to decamp himself; to which he put an effectual 
stop, by sending a body of soldiers after them with 
manacles, to bring them all back to his camp at Zagye, 
Mr. Rassam and his party being fettered in like manner. 
It was not till after the lapse of five days that the Em- 
peror was appeased and a reconciliatiou took place, the 
Eiu'opean artisans doubtless acting as mediators; upon 
which the chains of all were removed^ — though they 
were no longer allowed to have their liberty as they had 
had at Korata, but were confined within the Emperor's 
" court. ^' 

I have heard that, notwithstanding all this, the liberated 
captives might still have been permitted to quit the 
country, had Mr. Rassam consented to remain behind as 
a hostage for the fulfilment of the treat}^ on the part 
of the British Government and their compliance with 
the Emperor's other requests ; but that that gentleman 
objected to the departure of the Europeans without him, 
though Dr. Blanc volunteered to remain behind with 
him, provided the other Europeans might leave in charge 
of Lieut. Prideaux. 

From the well-known character of the monarch, it was 
to be anticipated that he would not allow everybody 
to leave him till he had got all he wanted ; and conse- 
quently, even if the liberated prisoners had " made it up " 
with him before attempting to go as they did, the result 
would have been much the same. It is in no spirit of vain- 
glory that I say that, had I been permitted to undertake 



the liberation of the captives, I was quite prepared for this 
emergency, as was my wife likewise ; and the proof that 
I am not speaking ex post facto, is in a letter which I 
wrote from Halai on April 27th, when everything pro- 
mised so well for the success of Mr. Rassam's mission, and 
which, after the good news of April 9th had reached me, 
T forwarded nevertheless to the nobleman to whom it 
was addressed, adding merely a postscript dated May 
12th, to the effect that, notwithstanding that good news, 
I still retained the same opinion. 

In that letter I said, " The reports of Mr. Rassam's pro- 
ceedings are most favourable, and if only they are to be 
depended on, we may expect soon to witness the arrival at 
Massowah of our Consul and the rest of the unfortunate 
Europeans who have so long been in chains. But, even 
supposing the Emperor to have thus promptly responded 
to Her Majesty's letter, there is yet a contingency which 
may arise. Mr. Rassam will, doubtless, have entered into 
engagements on behalf of Her Majesty's Government ; 
and the Abyssinian monarch may be suspicious as to the 
non-fulfilment of those engagements when once Mr. Ras- 
sam and tlie prisoners are beyond his reach. He may 
therefore insist on retaining a hostage for the fulfilment 
of those engagements, and if so, whom so likely as Mr. 
Rassam himself? Without discussing the rights of the 
matter, I will merely say that native Abyssinians of in- 
telligence, who know Theodore's character well, assure me 
that nothing is more probable." 

The foregoing extract from my letter of April 27th was 
inserted by me in the ' Times ' of July 8tli, accompanied 
by the following remarks : — " The case thus imagined 


upwards of two months ago has unhappily now become a 
fact, but under circumstances far more aggravated than 
I had contemplated. Mr, Flad, one of the captives, is 
on his way to England with despatches from Mr. Ras- 
sam, containing certain proposals from the Emperor 
Theodore to the British Government; and it is said 
that, until a favourable answer to these proposals is 
received. Her Majesty^s Envoy is to be detained with 
the remainder of the ' liberated ' captives ; so that, under 
no circumstances, can their departm'e from Abyssinia be 
expected till ' after the rains ' — that is to say, nex 
September or October. We have the assurance, how- 
ever, that during the interval they are to be ' well 
treated.^ Well did M. de Lesseps put the case, when 
we were discussing the subject together at Alexandria 
on my way home : — ' His Abyssinian Majesty,' said he, 
* imprisons his enemies and detains his friends.' " 

This detention is most disastrous. Mr. Waldmeier, in 
his letter of March 20th, to which allusion has already 
been made^, when speaking of Mr. Ilassam and the re- 
leased captives, remarked significantly and almost omi- 
nously : — '' It would be a dangerous thing if they -were 
obliged to spend the rainy season in this country. I 
fear, in that case, that the peace and friendship which 
have been so wisely restored by Mr. Eassam might suffer, 
which would be most painful to us. We shall, there- 
fore, do our utmost to forward Mr. Rassam's departure, 
together with those to whom he has been a saviour, 
with all possible speed." 

Dangerous as their passing the rainy season in that 
* See page 209. 



country seemed to one so competent to judge, at a mo- 
ment when all was fair and promising, they have now un- 
fortunately had to do so under circumstances such as 
Mr. Waldmeier could not then have contemplated. If 
the peace and friendship which Mr. Rassam was said to 
have restored were nevertheless likely to be endangered 
Avhilst all the Europeans were at liberty and able to oc- 
cupy and amuse themselves as best pleased them, how 
much more is this to be dreaded now that they have all 
been cooped up together at Magdala diuing the rainy 
season of 1866, as the " captives^' were during that of 

It must now be added, that as Mr. Flad did not leave 
England on his return to Abyssinia till October 9th, 
when the rainy season had terminated and the Abyssinian 
new year had begun, it can hardly be before the be- 
ginning of our new year, under the most favourable cir- 
cumstances, that we may expect to know the result of his 




The calamitous intelligence of Mr. Rassam^s fii'st disaster 
arrived in England at an inauspicious moment. Earl 
RusselFs Administration liad just broken up, leaving to 
their successors in office a damnosa hesreditas in this un- 
happy Abyssinian Question. Most difficult must it have 
been for Lord Stanley, immediately on entering on his 
duties at the Foreign Office, to decide on any course of 
action with a reasonable prospect of success. Under the 
circumstances, it would seem that he had only this alter- 
native :-^either to comply as far as practicable with the 
Emperor Theodore^s demands, as intimated by him to 
Mr. Rassam and agreed to by the latter as the Agent 
of Government; or else to repudiate all that Mr. Ras- 
sam had done, and at once adopt violent measures against 
that Sovereign — that is to saj', go to war with him. 


Having decided on the former coiu'se, the next thing 
was to act on it promptly and energetically. The fact 
was that Mr. Flad^s projected mission to Europe in the 
beginning of January 1864, "with letters to procure 
machines and one or two gunpowder-makers " *, which 
had been nipped in the bud by the inopportune arrival 
of Earl RusselFs despatch of September 1863t, was now 
revived on an enlarged scale, Mr. Flad having brought 
with him J2000 — said to be in bills drawn by Mr. 
Rassam against the amount of the Emperor's present, 
which he had placed to the credit of Her Majesty's 
Government J — for the purchase of the machines and 
other articles required. 

To enable him to fulfil his mission in this respect, Mr. 
Flad required the assistance of Government, which seems 
to have been given very fairly — not so liberally perhaps 
as Mr. Flad himself desired, but still on the whole very 
fairly. The machinery and other articles required by 
the Emperor were immediately put in hand; and the 
services of Mr, Talbot, a Civil Engineer, were secured 
for three years at a salary of .£1000 per annum, to- 
gether with those of six workmen of various kinds. They 
are all to be paid by the Emperor Theodore, but under 
the guarantee of the British Government, without which 
it is not likely that any of them would have agreed 
to go. 

Mr. Flad was further commissioned to see the Queen 
in person, and to obtain from Her Majesty another letter 
under the Royal Sign Manual, the former " civil answer '' 

* See page 128, and Mr. Stern's letter in the Appendix, 
t See pages 129 and 215, note. \ See page 200. 

MR. FLAd's audience. THE QUEEN WRITES AGAIN. 231 

of May 1864* not being sufficient. Accordingly Mr. 
Flad went to Osborne on Tuesday, August 14th, when, as 
was announced in the ' Court Circular/ " Lord Stanley 
had an audience of the Queen, after which he presented 
to Her Majesty the Rev. John Flad, lately detained in 
Abyssinia. Mr. Flad, whose family remains in that coun- 
try, is about to return there under instructions to effect, 
if possible, the release of the remaining prisoners." 

Her Majesty has further been pleased to address a 
second letter to Her " Good Friend," which has been 
entrusted to Mr. Flad to deliver. The purport of this 
letter is luiderstood to be that, whilst complying as far 
as possible with all the Emperor Theodore's requests, 
Her Majesty demands the immediate liberation of Mr. 
Rassam, Consul Cameron, the missionaries, and all the 
Eui'opeans who may be desirous of quitting Abyssinia. 
And the Queen makes it a condition that all those per- 
sons shall arrive either at Matamma or at Massowah, 
before Mr. Talbot and the workmen, together with the 
machinery and presents, will be allowed to pass the 
Abyssinian frontier. 

But before the preparations could be made for Mr. 
Flad^s departure, communications were received from the 
captives in Abyssinia on two separate occasions, which 
must be more particularly alluded to. The first was in 
the beginning of August, and brought news to the end 
of May, when everything appeared to be going on tole- 
rably well. The following particulars were published in 
the ' Jewish Intelligence' for October 1st, page 256 : — 
" Information has been received concerning the con- 
* See pages 139, 155, and 183. 


ditioii of the missionaries and their companions on to 
May 26th ; all were Arell and happy. The King's kind- 
ness and liberality to Mr. Rassam are spoken of in the 
highest terms. He has even visited him upon two occa- 
sions in his private tent. The King also provided food 
and wine for the whole party, to celebrate the anniver- 
sary of the Queen^s birthday. The National Anthem was 
sung with all honours, though not perhaps quite so cheer- 
fully as it Avould have been at home. As a special mark 
of the King's consideration for the Queen of England, 
a salute of twenty-one guns* was fired upon the occasion. 
The caution and wisdom of Mr. Rassam are highly com- 
mended; and we sincerely hope and earnestly pray that 
it may lead, on the return of Mr. Flad, to the final de- 
liverance of all. Mr. Flad, sent over by the King upon 
a special mission, has been most graciously received by 
Her Majesty at Osborne House, with expressions of sym- 
pathy for the sufferings which had been endured during 
the months of captivity. The Government are using their 
best endeavours to comply with the requests of the King, 
and to secure for our brethren and their companions the 
long waited for permission to leave the country. We 
ask our friends, in their name and in our own, to con- 
tinue to remember them in their prayers.^^ 

The periodical in which the foregoing particulars ap- 
peared is the organ of the London Society for Pro- 
moting Christianity among the Jews, whose Mission- 
aries Messrs. Stern and Rosenthal are, and it is published 
(if I mistake not) under the supervision of Captain 
Layard, the lay Secretary of the Society. I do not know 
* One four-pounder fired oft' 21 times. 


from what source Captain Layard obtained his infor- 
mation that the missionaries and their companions 
were all " well and happy ; " but I must confess that 
such was not the impression made on my mind by 
the following letter from Mr. Stern himself, received 
at the same time as the information so reported by 
Captain Layard, than which it is of two days' later 

" Zdgije, Lake Tsana, Abyssinia, May 28th, 1866. 

" My dear Dr. Beke, — Little did you or I anticipate, 
when we last met in London, that I should be a prisoner 
and you the good Samaritan to come to my own and 
others' release. A Turk would say it was kismet, but a 
Christian sees in it the finger of God and the pro- 
ceedings of an inscrutable Providence. 

" You have probably heard lots of strange stories about 
my grievous offences ; but, believe me, if an angel from 
Heaven had been placed in my position, he would not, 
after certain occurrences on which I must not dilate, 
have got unscathed out of this country. Thanks to 
Him who is with His servants in the tempest and fire, 
and who has also almost visibly been with me, and 
afforded me strength according to my day. 

"Our future is still enveloped in mystery. We have 
been released from our fetters, and enjoy once more the 
use of our unshackled limbs. When we shall be per- 
mitted to leave Abyssinia is still problematical. I have 
become a regular soiu'ed sceptic, and do not worry my 
mind about \isionary prospects, which till now have 
always turned out to be phantoms of an excited imagina- 
tion, or merely soap-bubbles. 


'^His Majesty, is 'kind'^" to lis, and we hope that his 
favours will not diminish. Our whole party are tolerably 
well, and very likely when the camp moves we shall find 
in active exercise something to relieve our distracting 
suspense. I am thankful that my family are well. His 
Majesty was deeply moved by the petition you forwarded, 
and he has also written a gracious reply to the relatives 
of the captives f- 

" We have heard wonderful accounts of Mrs. Beke^s 
hunting exploits. Please to give her my best Cliristian 
regards, and accept also the same for yourself. 

" That our Heavenly Father may be with you and us 
is the prayer of 

" Yours in the bonds of trouble and gratitude, 

" Charles Beke, Esq." " H. A. Stern.'^ 

In a foot-note to the information published in the 
* Jewish Intelligence,^ Captain Layard adds, " We regret 
to have to state that more recent letters from Abyssinia 
give a less favourable account of the condition of the 
captives, who had been sent up to the fortress of Mag- 
dala under a strong escort. ^^ 

This was putting in the mildest possible form the sad 
intelligence which had already been published by Mr. 
Flad himself in the 'Times' of September 26th, that 
the captives had all again fallen under the Emperor's dis- 
pleasure, in consequence of reports brought to him by 
some evil-disposed persons, and that they had all, toge- 

* So marked by Mr. Stern. 

t The Emperor's letter to myself is given in the Appendix ; but 
no answer to their petition has been i-eceived by any of the relatives 
of the captives. 


ther with Mr. Rassam and his party^ been sent again 
to prison at Amba Magdala, I have since learned what 
gave rise to the Emperor's displeasure. 

It having been reported to him by some evil-disposed 
persons that an English company had contracted with 
the Pasha of Egypt to construct a railroad from Suwakin 
to Kassala_, for the conveyance of troops to the latter place 
with a view to the invasion of Abyssinia, he called toge- 
ther all the Europeans to hear the statements made to 
him on the subject, and thereupon broke out into a 
violent rage with the English, and ordered all the libe- 
rated captives, together with Mr. Rassam and his suite, 
to be taken to Magdala. His anger against them was 
the greater, in consequence of his having been at the 
same time informed that some of the Europeans had 
abused him in the English newspapers, especially Dr. 
Blanc and Mr. Rosenthal, with whom he was in a ter- 
rific passion. Poor Mrs. Rosenthal was so frightened on 
account of her husband as to be taken seriously ill ; but 
Dr. Blanc having been allowed to attend her, notwith- 
standing the Emperor's anger against him, the antici- 
pated evil consequences of her illness were averted. 

The Emperor then ordered the Fetha Negest — the law 
of the country founded on the Roman Civil Law — to be 
referred to, and the texts to be read condemning the 
captives for their alleged offences ; and he then con- 
fiscated everything they possessed, not omitting the pre- 
sents he had himself given them. They were then given 
over into the hands of the Frenchman, M. Bardel, who 
was charged to see them all safely lodged at Amba Mag- 
dala. The members of the Scottish Mission were, as 


before; sent to work at Gaffat, with Mr. Waldmeier 
and the other European workmen^ Mrs. Flad and Mrs. 
Rosenthal being given into the charge of the latter. 

The substantial correctness of what is thus stated may 
be depended on; and there can be little doubt that M. 
Bardel himself, into whose charge the prisoners were 
given, was one of the " evil-disposed persons " to Avhose 
machinations they owe their misfortune. Time will show 
who were his coadjutors in this work of infamy. 

As to the report of the contemplated construction of a 
railway from Suwakin to Kassala, for the purpose of con- 
veying Egyptian troops to invade Abyssinia, it may possi- 
bly be a misrepresentation of the idea which has recently 
been entertained in some quarters, of forming such a 
communication between the Nile and the Red Sea at 
Cosseir or Berenice, as a more direct means of trans- 
porting British troops to and from India. Or it may be 
the renewal of a French project for running a railway 
from Suwakin to Berber on the Nile, which has long 
been entertained, and was even countenanced by some of 
the predecessors of the present Pasha of Egypt, though 
I am not aware of any steps having actually been taken 
to carry it into execution. 

I cannot, however, imagine that this French scheme 
alone could have served as a pretext for the misre- 
presentation made to the Emperor Theodore, though, 
coupled with the circumstances I am about to relate, it 
might without difficulty have been wrested so as to 
injure Mr. Rassam and his party. 

In page 88 of the present work allusion is made to a 
letter which I addressed on March 31st, 1852, to Lord 


Colchester, then Vice-President of the Board of Trade, 
" On the Cultivation of Cotton in Taka and Northern 
Abyssinia ; " which letter concluded in the following 
terms : — " In the new circumstances which ai'c now pre- 
sented to the notice of Her Majesty's Government, I 
take the liberty of repeating the representations which 1 
had the honour of making in my letter of the 5th of 
March, 1849, to Sir Denis Le Marchanf^, and of most 
strongly urging the importance of establishing a com- 
mercial Factory in the way and for the purposes sug- 
gested. And, in conclusion, I will only remark that, 
even were such a Factory established solely with a view 
to the opening up of a trade in Cotton with the regions 
which gave birth to the ' Ethiopian ' or ' Maho ' cotton 
of Egypt, so as to secure to our manufacturers a supply 
of that most valuable, and indeed indispensable, article 
from an independent source, the national advantages ac- 
cruing from such a measure would most assuredly far 
more than cdmpensate any reasonable expense that might 
thereby be incurred by Her Majesty's Government." 

Without pretending to any great amount of prescience, 
I felt convinced in my own mind at that remote period 
(1852), that before many years elapsed events would be 
such as to check, if not altogether to stop, the supply of 
Cotton from North America ; and several of my friends in 
England will remember how, during my residence in 
Mauritius between the years 1853 and 1860, I wrote to 
them in that sense, and got laughed at by them for my 
supposed wowsense ! 

Towards the end of 1860 I retm-ned to England, and, 
* See page 87. 


my prognostication having unhappily been verified, I ad- 
dressed a letter to the Editor of the ' Times ' which ap- 
peared in that journal on January 22nd, 1861, calling 
public attention to the remarkable fact that the increase 
in the production of Cotton was far more rapid in Egypt 
since the introduction of the seed from " Ethiopia/^ than 
it had been in North America in the first years of its 
growth there, wonderful as the latter was"^. On June 
11th of the same year, I spoke to the same effect at the 
Annual Meeting of the Cotton Supply Association at 
Manchester, and proposed to put down ,£1000 for the 
establishment of a Factory, such as had been proposed 
in my letter to Sir Denis Le Marchant twelve years 
previously, if twenty-four persons would join me with 
a like sum each, which proposal of mine is mentioned 
by Mr. Stern in page 321 of his book, ' Wanderings 
among the Falashas of Abyssinia.^ 

Nothing resulted however fi'om all my exertions. But 
on speaking shortly afterwards on the subject to my old 
and valued friend, the late Admiral Washington, who had 
always interested himself most deeply in the amelioration 
of Africa generally, as well as in my own personal la- 
bours in Abyssinia from the very outset, he represented 
to me that it was useless to hope for any one to embark 
in commercial speculations in that country, because it 
was not yet ripe for the public, but that, were I to pro- 
pose anything on Egyptian ground, he thought there 
might be a better chance of success. 

I Avas then on the point of proceeding into Syria with 

* Tliis arfiuiiieiit is reproduced at f^Tcater length in the 'Proposal 
for a Traniroad,' Arc, printed in the Appendix. 


my wife on our '^Pilgrimage to Harran^'^; and as on 
our way we had to go to Egypt, I drew up the " Proposal 
for a Tramroad between the Cotton Fields of Ethiopia 
and the Coast of the Red Sea/^ which is given in the 
Appendix to the present work, and had some copies 
printed for distribution among my friends in Egypt and 
otherwise for my private use. I never went further how- 
ever than a limited distribution of these copies. 

A copy of that document was enclosed in the letter 
which I addressed to the Secretary of the Board of Trade 
on November 3rd, 1862, and was by him forwarded to 
the Foreign Office; and I fear that the same, together 
with several other of my original communications, was, in 
the beginning of 1863, most inopportunely transmitted by 
Earl Russell to Consul Cameron to report thereon, as is 
stated in page 88. Should this printed " ProposaF' have 
been found among Consul Cameron^s papers, it would 
have been quite sufficient for evil-disposed persons to 
build thereon a tale of the construction by an English 
Company of a railway from Suwakin to Taka, not for the 
legitimate purposes of trade, but for the conveyance of 
Egyptian troops, with a view to the conquest of Abys- 

As to Dr. Blanc and Mr. RosenthaFs having inserted 
articles in the English newspapers abusing the Emperor, 
it is nothing but a malicious calumny patent to all the 
world, inasmuch as no such articles ever had any exist- 
ence except in the mind of the slanderer. Had it been 

* Mrs. Beke has since published a narrative of our journey, under 
the title of ' Jacob's Flight ; or a Pilgrimage to Harran, and thence 
in the Patriarch's Footsteps into the Promised Land.' 


said that Earl Hussell's ill-advised despatch of October 
5thj 1865, to Colonel Stanton had been brought to the 
Emperor's notice, it might have been believed, because, 
when at Massowali, I was . informed that that despatch, 
which was published in the "^ London Gazette' of Oc- 
tober 31st and thence copied into all the newspapers 
of the following morning, was also translated and pub- 
lished in a French journal which had reached Massowali; 
and my informant, who had read it, expressed the opinion 
that, if a knowledge of the contents of that despatch 
should reach the Emperor Theodore, he would assuredly 
regard it as an absolute withdrawal of friendship on the 
part of England, if not as a declaration of hostilities, and 
might consequently be expected to treat British subjects 
within his dominions as prisoners of war *. This would 
be quite in accordance with what he is reported to have 
said to the British Envoy, when sending him to prison 
at Amba Magdala on the 6th of last July, " You are a 
sweet- mouthed gentleman, Mr. Rassam, but those above 
you are my enemies." 

When I was at Massowah there were several persons 
there quite willing and able to forward the French trans- 
lation of Earl Russell's despatch into Abyssinia, and M. 
Bardcl was there to read it to the Emperor, making such 
comments on it as he might think best suited to inflame 
his mind against the British Government and everybody 
dependent on or connected with them. 

But there are other circumstances which, at the time 
in question, the bcginiiing of July, 1866, must of a 
surety have come to the Emperor's knowledge. 

* On the subject of this despatch sefs the rcmavks in page 136. 


On April 29tli the Egyptian steam frigate ' Ismailieli' 
and a steam transport of the Azizieh Company, having 
on board the new Egyptian Governor and 1200 soldiers, 
with several cannon, arrived at Massowah, for the pur- 
pose of taking possession of the Turkish dominions along 
the Abyssinian sea-board, recently transferred to Egypt 
through the instrumentality of Sir Henry Bulwer, the 
late British Ambassador at Constantinople^. After land- 
ing the Governor and 800 soldiers in the island of 
Massowah and at Arkiko on the adjoining mainland, 
the ' Ismailieh ' left with the remaining 400 men and 
Hassan Pasha, who had come to inspect and garrison the 
several Turkish, now Egyptian, posts along the coast, 
and who afterward crossed over in the Egyptian frigate 
to Aden. 

A few days after this, namely on May 11th, the British 
steamer ' Victoria ' arrived at Massowah, having on board 
Colonel Merewether, Her Majesty^s Resident at Aden, 
who, on entering the harbour, as a matter of course 
saluted the Egyptian flag, and was in return saluted by 
the fort, and shortly afterwards the new Egyptian Go- 
vernor went on board to pay his respects. These ordi- 
nary acts of courtesy, really meaning nothing in them- 
selves, might easily have been made significant by the 
evil-disposed persons at Massowah, who in any case 
would not have failed to announce the arrival of the 
new Egyptian Governor and garrison — a fact in itself of 
the gravest import. 

It is well known how deeply the Emperor Theodore, 
not individually only but in common with his country- 
* See page l^.'j. 



men generally, feels the loss of the Abyssinian sea-coast. 
" My kingdom reaches to the sea " is a frequent expres- 
sion of the Emperor; and Consul Cameron has reported 
how, at his first interview with him, that monarch " broke 
out into invectives against the Turks, said they were 
encroaching on him on every side, spoke of the seven 
flags (as he expressed it) that they had planted on the 
sea-coast ■^, &c. — meaning by this the stations along the 
coast, which the Turks have occupied since the middle of 
the sixteenth century. 

Is it then to be imagined that a Sovereign who could 
converse with Mr. Rassam on such various and remote 
topics as " the American war, the Ashantee war, the bar- 
barity of the King of Dahomey, and the Government 
of Madagascar," should not be thoroughly acquainted 
with matters so much nearer home and affecting him so 
much more intimately? 

But there is something, if possible, more immediately 
serious than even the occupation of Massowah and the 
Abyssinian coast by the Egyptians. This is the fact of 
the assembling of troops along the northern frontiers of 
Abyssinia, as is mentioned in a former pagcf, coupled 
with the further intelligence that troops have recently 
been introduced into Taka by the way of Suwakin ; and 
though they have been so introduced for the ostensible 
purpose of keeping peace within the unsettled border 
districts belonging to Egypt — and I believe the matter 
has been so represented to the British Government on 
their asking for an explanation on the subject, — there 
can be little doubt that the real object is to occupy the 
• See page 66. f See page 135. 


districts about which there exists a question between 
that Government and Abyssinia^ if not even to make 
aggressions into those belonging to the latter power — 
which means much the same thing after all, now that 
Turkey has ceded to Egypt her right to the whole of 

All these matters prove how complicated the Abys- 
sinian Question is, and serve to show that the longer 
its settlement is delayed, the greater are likely to be 
its complications and the difficulties in the way of its 

But to return to Mr. Flad, who left England on Oc- 
tober 9th with the second letter from the Queen to the 
Emperor, his intention being to make the best of his 
way to Debra Tabor, or wherever the Emperor may 
happen to be ; and his return, either to Massowah or to 
Matamma, with the rest of the finally released captives, 
is to be the signal for Colonel Merewether, with Mr. 
Talbot and the English workmen, to cross the Abys- 
sinian frontier, carrying with them the machinery and 
presents, and to proceed to the Emperor's court. The 
treaty which Mr. Rassam is understood to have entered 
into provisionally"^ will then be settled ; and it is said 
said that Colonel Merewether may, under certain contin- 
gencies, return to England with an Embassy, or a pseudo- 
Embassy, from that Potentate to Her Britannic Majesty. 

Mr. Talbot and the workmen, with the machinery and 
presents, left Southampton on November 4th by the Pen- 
insular and Oriental Company's steamer for Alexandria, 
and on the 9tli Colonel Merewether followed them via 
* See page 223. 



Marseilles. The British steamer 'Victoria^ -was to meet 
them at Suez"^, and convey them all to Massowah^ Avhere 
they would await intelligence from Mr. Flad. 

Their departure had been delayed by the preparation 
of the machinery — the boiler of the steam-engine" forming 
part of it having to Ijc made in several pieces, on account 
of the difficulty of transporting heavy articles in Abys- 
sinia, where there are no artificial roads. 

Before concluding this portion of my work, it is requi- 
site that I should say a few words respecting my own mis- 
sion in connexion with that of Mr. Flad. 

In the debate in the House of Lords on Jiily 4th, 1865, 
to which alkision has already been made f, the Earl of 
Malmesbury said that " Dr. Beke had placed in his hands 
a paper, in which he stated he had not the slightest 
doubt he should have been able to obtain the liberation of 
the captives, as well as to convince the Emperor of Abys- 
sinia of the wisdom of cultivating the arts of peace in 
preference to those of Avar, and of developing the immense 
resources of his dominions "J. 

In the paper referred to by Lord Malmesbury, I had 
particularized the cultivation of the indigenous cotton of 
Ethiopia (which, introduced into Egypt only forty years 
ago, has been the main source of the wealth of that 
country), the production and employment of the iron and 
coal which abound in Abyssinia to an almost unlimited 
extent, and the formation of a line of electric telegraph 
across that country as an important portion of a chain 
connecting Europe with India, Australia, China, and the 

• The * Victoria ' <an-iv('d at 8uez on Xovember IGtli. 
t See page 1G5. | ' Times,' July 5, 1865. 

THE author's mission. PLAN AND PKOCEEDINGS. 215 

entire eastern hemisphere, — the same particulars being 
more fully set out in my letter to Earl Russell of May 
19th, 18G5 *, a copy of which is given in the Appendix. 

In going out to Abyssinia, as will be apparent from my 
first letter to the Emperor also printed in the Appendix, 
the intention of my wife and myself was to present our- 
selves before him as suppliants, having no connexion 
whatever with Her Majesty's Government; and I have 
no hesitation in saying that in my communications with 
that monarch I should have adopted a line of policy 
diametrically opposite to that of Mr. Rassam. It would 
be useless to describe here how I would have acted ; but 
this only I must repeat, that we were both quite 
prepared to propose that, if the Emperor would allow 
Consul Cameron to leave the country, we would remain in 
his stead. As to the missionaries, I do not imagine there 
would have been any difficulty in the way of the Em- 
peror's being reconciled with them and letting them go 
free. In fact, I believe he would have been only glad to 
have been furnished with a reasonable excuse for getting 
rid of them without compromising his dignity. 

Of course when we heard that the captives had not only 
been liberated, but had actually started on their way to 
the frontier t, and it appeared to be a moral certainty tliat 
they would arrive on the coast in a few weeks, if not 
in a few days, it was useless for us to continue our jour- 
ney, especially as at that time the rainy season was just 
setting in. We therefore returned to Egypt and thence 

* Parliamentary Paper, 18G5, ' Papers relating to the Imprison- 
ment of British Subjects,' pp. 11-14. 
t See page 220. 


to England, fully expecting that the liberated captives 
would not be long behind us. 

In the beginning of July, when Mr. Flad arrived in 
England, bringing the distressing news that all the cap- 
tives, together with Mr. Rassam and his suite, had been 
" detained " by the Emperor *, he was also the bearer of a 
letter from that monarch to myself, directing me and my 
wife to come to him when it suited us by the way of Ma- 
tammaf; and Mr. Flad informed me that the Emperor 
was most anxious for the arrival of myself and of the pre- 
sents I had brought for him, and he suggested that should 
I not take them up myself, I should let him have them 
to deliver in my name. 

For some time I was undecided as to what I should 
do, especially after the receipt of a second letter from 
the Emperor, recalling the permission given me to come 
to him, and ordering me to remain at Massowah until 
he should give me orders which way I was to take J. 
But, after mature consideration of this and other matters 
which will be related in their proper place, I at length 
decided that, under existing circumstances, it was not 
advisable for me to attempt to proceed to the Empe- 
ror^s court. I therefore freely allowed Mr. Flad to take 
the presents, or such of them as he might think fit 
to select. 

The articles I had purchased had been chosen in ac- 
cordance with the plan I had long entertained. Some 
few were taken out with me ; but, owing to the slow- 

* See page 221. 

f A tmnslation of this letter is given in the Appendix. 

\ This letter is likewise gi^en in the Appendix. 


ness with which the funds for my expedition were pro- 
vided, most of them had to be sent after me; and 
notwithstanding a delay in my own progress much greater 
than I had contemplated, many of the things were still 
so long in coming out, that they did not reach Masso- 
wah till after I had left Abyssinia, and they had conse- 
quently to be returned to Aden^. 

* The Committee of the "Abyssinian Captives Liberation Fund" 
having asked for a statement of my appropriation of the money re- 
ceived from them, in order that they may render an account of their 
stewardship to the subscribers to that fund, I hasten to furnish here 
the following particulars, which would more suitably have accom- 
panied my personal nan-ative. 

The total amount received from the Committee by myself and my 
agents, Messrs. Blyth, Greene, and Co., is £1979 13 7 

And the following is a note of the payments out of 
the same : — 

Presents purchased : — 

Paid for by myself £ 52 19 3 

Paid for by my agents 667 15 7 

£720 14 10 

Travelling kit, &c 125 9 1 1 

Freight and incidental expenses 121 7 3 

Sept. 1, 1865, to Jan. 16, 1866 :— 

Journey out to Massowah of my wife and 
myself, including our stay in London and in 
Egypt, visit to Manchester, Birmingham, 

Wolverhampton, &c 439 11 4 

Jan. 16, 1866, to May 12, 1866 :— 

Expenses at Massowah and in Abyssinia, in- 
cluding supplies purchased in Egypt and 

at Aden 264 7 

May 12, 1866, to June 8, 1866 :— 

Journey back to England 147 

1818 4 5 

Leaving a surplus of £ 161 9 2 

Against this there is the personal outfit of my vdfe and myself; 
and, further, no charge is made for our three months' forced stay in 


The firearms, ammunition, cutlery, tools, &c, were 
taken over by Mr. Flad ; the specimens of cotton goods 
of various kinds were rejected, as was also the electric 
telegraph apparatus, to which I had attached a special 
value. When however Mr. Talbot had been engaged 
to go out and was spoken to on the subject, he appears 
to have been alive to its importance, and asked to have 
it. Of course it was given. 

These things are intended to be taken by Mr. Talbot 
into Abyssinia; and if only all turns out well, and 
the Emperor can be induced to direct his mind to the 
cultivation of the arts of peace — even if it be by fol- 
lowing the example of the Powers of Europe, and manu- 
facturing gunpowder and Snider breach-loaders — there 
may be something yet in store for Abyssinia, Let us 
only hope it will be so, though, day by day, I fear the 
chance grows smaller of its being by means of the Em- 
peror Theodore. 

For myself, I had fondly hoped that I might per- 
sonally have had some share in the regeneration of a 
country to which I have devoted so many years of the 
prime of my life. But, according to all appearances, 
mine is likely to be the common fate of pioneers, pro- 
jectors, and inventors, who, after sacrificing time, talents, 
fortune, health, nay even life — poor Jacob Snider himself 
is the latest instance — in the furtherance of their views, 
find themselves, at the moment of fruition, superseded 

liOndon after our return, oiu' house having been let for a j'ear during 
our absence. In fact, I am out of pocket by the transaction, to say 
nothing of remuneration for time and services, which was not ex- 


by others more fortunate, who reap the benefit and too 
often obtain likewise the credit of all their labours 
and sacrifices. 

Still, if through the intervention of others — even though 
putting myself aside — good shall at length come to Aliys- 
sinia — the liberation of the long-suffering captives, in 
whose fate I feel so deep an interest, being an element 
of that good — I shall have my reward ; for I shall have 
the proud consciousness of not having laboured in vain, 
whilst striving during so many years to direct the atten- 
tion of the British Government and the British nation 
to the vast field which is there presented to British en- 

This is a theme on which it would be easy to dilate. 
But as that Avould hardly come within the scope of the 
present work, I will content myself with repeating the 
closing words of ' A Memoir on the Commerce of Abys- 
sinia,* which I addressed to the Earl of Aberdeen, then 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on December 9th, 
1843 — now three and twenty years ago : — "Were a regular 
system of commerce once introduced, there is no saying 
what development our trade with Abyssinia, and through 
it with the interior of Africa, might be made to attain. 
At present, the commerce of the country is so completely 
in its infancy and so trammeled by the few Mohammedan 
middle-men of Massowah, through whose hands it has to 
pass, that its actual condition forms no criterion of its 
future powers. The Abyssinians themselves have hitherto 
known so few wants, that they have had no inducement to 
turn their attention to what their country produces or 
might be made to produce ; but when we bear in mind 


that, though situate within the tropics, between the 10th 
and 16th degrees north of the Equator, it is, from its 
great elevation, blessed with a temperate climate, and, 
moreover, that its fertile soil, extending as it does through 
regions of almost every degree of temperature, might be 
made to yield the productions both of the West Indies 
and at the same time of the south of Europe, it is diffi- 
cult to place a limit upon its capabilities under a more 
favourable state of things — the first grand step towards 
which is to induce the feeling of fresh wants in the minds 
of its inhabitants, who, to satisfy such feeling, would not 
be long in turning their lovely country to the uses for 
which it was assm'edly intended by its Creator." 





view with earl russell — with lord palmerston — consul 
Cameron's instructions — history repeats itself — "Vene- 

Should Mr. Flad succeed in his mission, as is fervently 
to be hoped, we may expect the new year to be ushered 
in with the most welcome retui'n of the captives to the 
bosom of their families; and all that they will thence- 
forth have to do in connexion with Abyssinia will be to 
recount the hardships they have undergone. 

It will remain for Colonel Merewether to proceed to 
the Court of the Emperor Theodore, for the purpose of 
endeavouring to renew the friendship which existed be- 
fore the death of Consul Plowden and Mr. Bell, and 


which has received so severe a trial from the events of 
the last four years. 

In order to estimate the chances of success in what 
cannot but be an arduous undertakings even under the 
most favourable circumstances, it is desirable^ or it may 
rather be said it is absolutely essential, that we should 
consider what have hitherto been the relations — not offi- 
cial and exoteric, but esoteric and real — in which Eng- 
land has stood towards Abyssinia, so that we may be 
enabled to form something like a correct opinion as to 
the probable issue of the existing state of affairs. 

For this purpose it is necessary to refer once more 
to Earl Russell's despatch of October 5th, 1865, to Co- 
lonel Stanton^. The object in writing that despatch is 
thus stated by his Lordship : — " It may be useful, in 
order to prevent misconceptions, that I should enable 
you to state, on any proper occasion, what has been and 
is the policy of the British Government regarding Abys- 
sinia ;" and after entering into various details, which have 
been more or less discussed by me in the preceding 
pages, Earl Russell concludes by saying, "I have thus 
explained to you that the policy of the British Govern- 
ment has been founded entirely on the desire to promote 
trade and intercoiu-se with Abyssinia' 't- 

Though it is far from my desire to dispute in any way 
the correctness of the assertions of a nobleman holding 
the high position of Earl Russell, I am nevertheless 
under the necessity of appealing to the readers of these 
pages to say whether they have been able to discover any- 

* rarliamentary Paper, 18()(), 'Further Correspondeuce,' &c., p. 00. 
t Ihid. p. U.3. 


thing in them that tends to substantiate Earl RussclFs 
assertion, or whether, on the contrary, everything does 
not go to prove directly the contrary. I will briefly 
recapitulate the main facts. 

In the year 1847 Mr. Walter Plowden was appointed 
by Viscount Palmerston to be Her Majesty^s Consul in 
Abyssinia. The instructions given to that officer have 
not been made public officially ; but a summary of them 
has been inserted in pages 55 and 56 of this work, on 
the authority of Consul Plowden's brother. One of the 
objects of his appointment is indeed said to have been, 
"to establish and promote commercial intercom'se be- 
tween Great Britain and Abyssinia;" and in the year 
1849 that officer, professedly with this object, concluded 
a treaty of friendship and commerce with the rulers of 
Abyssinia^. But as early as October 3rd, 1853, Lord 
Clarendon stated explicitly that, from Consul Plowden^s 
reports then before him, it appeared there was little 
reason to expect that advantage would result to British 
interests from the conclusion of that treaty and the es- 
tablishment of a British Consulate in Abyssinia f : and 
we have seen that from that time until his death in the 
beginning of 1860, with the exception of his official inter- 
ference in Bogos and a brief visit to Massowah in 1854, 
Consul Plowden was occupied about the person of the 
Emperor J, and that, during the whole intervening period, 
and indeed down to the present day, nothing whatever 
has been done to show that the agents of the British 
Government, or the Government themselves, have acted 
in accordance with a policy founded entirely, or in the 
* See page 21. f See page 24. t See page 5G. 


slightest degree, on a desire to promote trade and in- 
tercourse with Abyssinia, or have even entertained a 
thought respecting such a policy. 

It Avill be asked, "what then has been the real policy of 
England with regard to Abyssinia during this long series 
of years? The answer, though it may much surprise 
the British public, will not appear in the least strange 
to those persons who have at all watched the course of 
events in that quarter of the globe. England has been 
covertly waging war with France on the western shores of 
the Red Sea. The two Powers, through their political 
agents, and still more so through their religious mis- 
sionaries (who, singularly enough, are Germans on the 
English side, and Italians on that of France), have been 
endeavouring to acquire the preponderance in Abyssinia. 
Yet more, the French have striven to obtain a footing 
on the sea-coast, which the English have done their best 
(or rather their worst) to prevent ; and so the stream of 
events has gently and almost imperceptibly glided ou, and 
we have been drifting with the stream. It is not difficult 
to foresee how it is all to end, especially if England is to 
continue, as she seems bent on continuing, in the line of 
policy she has hitherto adopted. 

General assertions like these require to be substantiated 
by means of details, which I therefore proceed to give. 

The first two chapters of the present work contain 
a bi-ief outline of the rivalry that has long existed in 
Abyssinia between the French and Roman Catholics 
on the one hand, and the English and Protestants on 
the other. In page 17, referring to my pamphlet, 'The 
French and English in the Red Sea,' I have alluded more 


especially to the " intrigues in Abyssinia of the agents of 
the Church of Rome and of the Government of France, 
which appear to have been systematically and silently 
carried on from the commencement of the present ccn- 

I will not attempt to deny that, in saying this, I may 
have laid myself open to the imputation of having looked 
at matters too much as an Englishman ; and, as I have 
already shown, this has been alleged against me by M. 
Munzinger, the French Vice-Consul at Massowah *. Such 
being the case, it is only fair that I should give that gen- 
tleman's opposite statement of the case — namely, that it 
was Mr. Plowden and the Protestant missionaries who in- 
trigued against the Roman Catholics, if not actually 
against France. 

In page 47 of his work already cited t, after having 
spoken in favourable terms of our late Consul, and de- 
scribed his relations with the Emperor Theodore and his 
murder " by rebels," M. Munzinger thus expresses him- 
self, — " That Mr. Plowden should have done everything 
to dispose the Emperor favourably towards England is 
natural ; that he induced him to forbid the slave-trade 
is praiseworthy, even although the result was nothing 
and the prohibition was soon afterwards revoked ; but the 
active part he took in the banishment of the Catholic 
mission was no great honour to him, and did him no 
good ; for, in so acting, he relinquished a clear and open 
policy for a system of intrigues. 

"It is known that Theodore sought to secure his 
throne through an alliance with the Coptic Bishop of 
* See papre 175. f ' Ostafrikanische Stiidien.' 


Abyssinia, and that in consequence the Emperor banished 
the Catholic missionaries "^ and attempted to compel 
their converts, the native priests, to recant. The result 
was naturally the reverse of what was intended. Perse- 
cution consolidated the infant congregation. But it was 
lamentable that an English Consul should have mixed 
himself up in the matter, when he had so favourable 
an opportunity of becoming the acknowledged protector 
of all Eiu'opeans. 

" Through these proceedings, the Catholic Mission 
became hostile to the Emperor and to England. A 
new French Consul arrived at MassoAvah, Negusye rose 
against the Emperor, and, as the Abuna supported the 
latter, Negusye favoured the Catholic Mission ; and thus 
was formed an alliance between these three powersf- It 
must not be forgotten that in the train [Gefolge] of the 
English Consul, and under the protection of the Abuna, 
a Protestant Mission was established under the very eyes 
of the Emperor^' J. 

The mission to which M. Munzinger alludes is that of 
Bishop Gobat's Scripture readers, better known as the 
artisan missionaries or the Emperor's European workmen, 
whose introduction into Abyssinia by Dr. Krapf is nar- 
rated in a preceding Chapter §. 

On account of the important position the members of 
Bishop Gobat's mission have come to occupy in the recent 
occurrences between England and Abyssinia, it is expe- 

* See page .39, ante. As is shown in page 16, the rivalry between 
the missionaries of the two religions was first ()])enly manifested in the 
nomination of the Coptic Ahixna. 

f Namely, Tigre, France, and Home. % Op. cit. page 47. 

§ Chapter VII. page 108. 


dient to enter here into some further explanations respect- 
ing that mission^ which would have been out of place^ and 
indeed unintelligible^ had they been given earlier. 

The mission in question was founded in Abyssinia 
through the agency of the well-known missionary and 
my very good friend Dr. Krapf, who, in a work pub- 
lished by him a few years ago*, relates that when, in 
the year 1855, he went to Abyssinia, accompanied by 
Mr. Flad, for the purpose of establishiug this mission, 
he addressed himself in the first instance to the Abuna, 
whom he told " that Bishop Gobat proposed to send 
Christian artisans to Abyssinia, whose primary occu- 
pation would be to work at their trades, but who at 
the same time would be the means of spreading the 
gospel both by precej)t and example. The Abuna re- 
joined that the King would be glad to receive skilled 
workmen, and that His Majesty had proposed to write 
to England, France, and Germany for such persons. 
He promised to read Bishop Gobat^s letter to the King, 
and to recommend its contents to His Majesty^s con- 
sideration "f. 

Dr. Krapf then goes on to say that, consequent on this 
conversation, he and Mr. Flad received a visit fi'om Mr. 
Bell, whom the Abuna had commissioned to tell them that 
they " ivere not to say anything to the King about the 
religious vocation of the persons Bishop Gobat proposed to 
send to Abyssinia, but to dwell on the known and secular 
character of the mission, as religious matters belonged to 
the jurisdiction of the Abuna, who was our friend and 

* ' Travels, Researches, and Missionary Laboiu-s,'&c., London, 1860. 
t Op. cit. p. 453. 


would protect and support Bishop Gobat's people as far 
as lie had it in his power '' *. 

What is here related by Dr. Krapf took place in 
April 1855, at a time when Consul Plowden was alto- 
gether awayt ; so that M. Munzinger is nowise justi- 
fied in saying that in the train of the English Consul, 
and under the protection of the Abuna, a Protestant 
mission was established under the very eyes of the Em- 
peror." Neither is it the fact that the English Consul 
had anything to do with the expulsion of the Roman Ca- 
tholic mission ; for, as has been shown J, that mission was 
banished as a consequence of the intrigues connected with 
Theodore^s rise to power, at which time Consul Plowden 
was away in the northern frontier districts; and he did 
not join the Emperor till June 1855 §, when everything 
was settled, and Dr. Krapf had left the Court and returned 
to the coast, as is related by him in the following passage, 

* Op. cit. pp. 454-55. 

t The following extracts from Dr. Krapf 's work prove that Mr. 
Plowden had nothing whatever to do with the establishment of the 

" '20th Fehrttary [1865]. — To-day we arrived safely at the island 
of Massowah."— P. 4-38. 

" 2Qth Fehruarrj. — Mr. Plowden, the English Consul, returned to 
day to Massowah. He thinks that we may proceed with safety to the 
frontiers of Tigre, but that we should halt there until the govern- 
ment of the new King shall be consolidated Mr. Plowden 's 

opinion is, that the condition of Abyssinia will be materially improved 
by the new monarch, whom he knows personally.''- — P. 439. 

" 1st March. — We received to-day fresh and certain news from 
Abyssinia. ■ Zlhye has been cmnpletely defeated by Theodore . . . . Ttic 
Ro7tiish missionaries have been expelled from Tigre, and are not to 
return to it. TTpon the receipt of this news the Consul encouraged us 
to prosecute our journey to Abyssinia." — P. 440. 

\ See page 30. § See page 47. 

"to say nothing about faith and religion." 259 

which^ for more than one reason, is deserving of being- 
reproduced : — "24!th-28th April. — After we had taken 
leave of the Abuna we commenced our return-journey to 
Gondar, which we reached in safety. To-day Mr. Plowden 
arrived at Gondar"^. He intended to accompany the King 
during his campaign against the Gallas, and to give him 
good advice respecting the improvement of his country. 
We took leave of Mr. Plowden, who has shown us much 
kindness and hospitality " t- The results of the inten- 
tion thus expressed are shown in the Fourth Chapter of 
the present work J. 

In the beginning of the following year (1856) Bishop 
Gobat's lay missionaries arrived out in Abyssinia, where 
they soon made themselves serviceable to the Emperor in 
their capacity of workmen. Their missionary labours, 
though apparently restricted to the distribution of bibles, 
met with little favour either with the sovereign or with 
his people; and Mr. Flad relates that, on the occasion 
of their first interview with the Emperor, when they 
had presented some books to him, Mr. Bell " acknow- 
ledged to them after the interview that at that moment 
His Majesty would have been more plfeased with a box 
of English gunpowder than, as he said, Avith books he 
already possessed^' §. Mr. Bell "told them also that 
evil and, as he believed, false reports had reached the 
King's ears;" and he concluded by warning them, "if 
they desired to remain in Abyssinia^ to say nothiny 

* From Massowah, where he had remained since Februaiy : see the 
note in the preceding page. 

t Op. ('it. p. 4G0. I Pages 47-52. 

§ ' Notes from the Journal of F. M. FLid,' p. 34. 

s 2 


about faith and religion, and to avoid all appearance of 
teaching '' '^. 

Notwithstanding this warning, the artisan missionaries 
have not abandoned their character of Scripture-read- 
ers^ as is shown by Mr. Waldmeier's letter, published 
in the ' Record/ to which reference has already been 
made t j whence it is to be inferred that, although in 
the first instance the Emperor received Mr. Waldmeier 

* Op. cit. p. 55. 

t See pages 209, 227. The following is an extract from IMi*. Wald- 
meier's letter : — " As to our mission, we believe it to be of tlie greatest 
importance just at this time, when the hearts of the people have been 
softened, and in some sense broken, by the sufferings and tribulations 
which the severe and successive judgments of God have brought upon 
them, so that they are better disposed to hear the Word of God than 
formerly. Messrs. Stern and Makerer have given us the most 
encouraging reports about the himger of the people at Magdala after 
the Word of God. Yet if I had to be appointed again to a mission, I 
should hardly consent to be sent to any old and dead Church, where 
one must first break down before one can begin to build up, and 
where the breaking down is so tiresome and exhausting that there 
remains scarcely any strength afterwards to build up. Nevertheless 
our labom's are not altogether in vain ; for, in the first place, thej^ are 
the means, as we sometimes are permitted to see, of bringing indivi- 
duals to Jesus and to salvation ; and, secondly, they are calculated to 
prepare a more general reform and a day of salvation for this people, 
of which we believe to perceive the dawn; though, as a thousand 
years are as one day before the Lord, a long time may still elapse 
before the rising of the Sun of Righteousness upon the people at 

" It is possible, as Mr. Rassam has told me, that in consequence of 
some treaty between England and Abyssinia, there may be more 
liberty for Europeans to come to Abyssinia and leave it again at plea- 
sm'e ; in which case personal consultations about the mission here, and 
fi'ora here to the Galla tribes, would be of the utmost interest. Till 
then we will continue to believe, to hope, and to labour, looking unto 
the Lord for strength and courage witli patience to proclaim the sal- 
vation which is in Christ to this ruined people." — 'Record,' .Tuly 11, 


and his companions into his employ^ and accorded them 
his favour, solely in their character of workmen, yet his 
need for their services'^ has since induced him to shut 
his eyes to their labours as missionaries. Still, in the 
midst of the ignorant and bigoted native clergy, and 
with the Abuna utterly unable to protect them (for he has 
long been a prisoner at Magdala), their position cannot 
but be precarious ; and therefore it is only natural that 
Mr. Waldmeier should have been anxious for the speedy 
departure of Mr. Rassam and the released prisoners, from 
an apprehension that it might indeed be " a dangerous 
thing if they were obliged to spend the rainy season " in 
Abyssinia, and hence lead to further complications, from 
which the artisan missionaries themselves might suffer f. 

But, to return to M. Munzinger. After unjustly 
charging the English Consul with being the originator of 
aU the mischief, he proceeds to say that, " England having 
declared herself for the Emperor, France turned to Ne- 
giisye" X, with whom an alliance was formed, the terms 
of that alliance being (as M. Munzinger cannot deny 
though he hesitates directly to admit it,) that France 
should support that Prince in consideration of the cession 

* Whilst correcting this sheet for the press, my attention has 
been directed to Mr. Stern's statements at the end of his letter of 
November 1st, 1865, printed in the Appendix, which I received for 
publication only a few days ago. From them we learn the secret of 
the hold Mr. Waldmeier and his companions have on the mind of the 
Emperor Theodore. They possess a copy of " The Book of Qviiute 
Essence, or the Fifth Being, that is to say, Man's Heaven," which 
"Hermes, the prophet, and King of Egypt after the Flood of Noah, 
father of philosophers, had, by revelations of an angel of God, to 
him sent." This subject wiU be reverted to in a note on Mr. Stem's 
letter. — November 23rd, 1866. 

t See page 227. J Op. cit. p. 47. 


of the sea-coast near ZuUa, as has ab'cady been de- 
scribed *. 

The " murder of Consul Plowden by some rebels in 
the neighbourhood of Gondar '' (to use jM. Munzinger's 
own expression) is passed over very lightly by him; for 
he would not have liked to bring it prominently forward, 
lest it should be said that, as those " rebels " were some 
of the troops of Negiisye the ally of the French and 
the Roman Catholics, and as the alliance between these 
three was caused by acts in which Mr. Plowden is 
alleged (however unjustly) to have participated, and was 
avowedly formed for the purpose of counteracting those 
acts and as a matter of self-defence, the unavoidable 
conclusion is that both tlie French and the Roman Ca- 
tholics were indirectly (though, we would hope, uncon- 
sciously) participators in this " murder " of the British 

The French Government would doubtless repudiate all 
participation in Consul PloAvden^s death, as emphatically 
and unequivocally as the English Government would 
repudiate all participation in or even knowledge of the 
acts imputed to that officer by M. Munzinger. But 
neither the one nor the other of those two Governments 
could deny their general policy, — that of the one being 
to obtain a preponderance in Abyssinia and a footing on 
the Abyssinian coast, and that of the other being to pre- 
vent their doing so by every means in their power. 

It has now to be considered what steps they have taken 
to attain the ol)ject they each liave in view. 

Common sense would suggest that the natural course 
* See piiirc 58. 


for England to adopt would have been to form an alliance 
with the native rulers near the sea-coast. In the letter 
which I addressed to Lord Palmerston on April 4th, 
1848, to which I. have already alluded*, I pointed this 
out as a direct, consistent, and intelligible policy. That 
letter is given in the Appendix f; and though it was written 
upwards of eighteen years ago, I really do not see one 
word to alter in it, with the exception only of the changes 
of proper names &c., resulting from the subsequent ap- 
pearance of other actors on the stage. 

I may seem to be constantly referring to myself; but, 
mixed up as I am with so much that has occui'red, it is 
impossible to avoid doing so. Ever since I addressed 
that letter to Lord Palmerston I have continued to harp 
on one string ; or, I should rather say, I have continued 
to strike two chords — France, Roman Catholicism, and 
the Sea-coast — England, Protestantism, and the Inte- 
rior, — of which the former is consonant and harmonious, 
whilst the latter is discordant and harsh. 

After Captain Cameron came to England from his post 
in the Black Sea, and while he was waiting for his in- 
structions from the Foreign Office, I saw him several 
times, and did not fail to point out to him the impolicy 
and impropriety of his going into the interior and leaving 
the coast to the French, and I told him that I would 
do all I could to prevent him from doing so. 

His instructions were dated February 2nd, 1861 J ; and 
on the 19th of that month I had the honour of an inter- 

* See page 22. f See page 297. 

X Parliamentary Paper, 1865, ' Papers relating to the Imprisonment 
of Bi-itisli subjects,' p. 1. 


view with the Foreign Secretary, Earl Russell, on whom 
I urged my stereotyped arguments. "But what then 
would you do with Theodore, Dr. Beke?'' asked his 
Lordship. "^'My Lord, I would let him go to — just 
wherever he pleases,^^ was my plain-spoken and not very 
diplomatic reply. 

Of course this was not said on account of any personal 
objection to the Emperor Theodore himself. I admit 
that when he first gained possession of the throne, I 
could not think so highly of him as others thought, be- 
cause I happened to know more than they did of his 
personal character, and (what is perhaps more to the pur- 
pose) I had no motive for wishing, and therefore none 
for thinking, well of him ! But when once his possession 
of the throne had become un fait accompli, there was 
nothing more to be said on that point. But my objec- 
tion to the ruler of the central proiinces of Abyssinia, 
whoever he might be, still continued the same as it had 
been expressed [mutatis mutandis) in my letter of April 
4th, 1848, written seven years before ever "the Em- 
peror Theodore " came into existence : — " He is a chief 
having no jurisdiction or authority within the dominions 
of [the ruler of Tigre] , and -vfhose residence, Debra Tabor, 
situate at least 250 miles from the coast, is only to be 
reached by [Consul Cameron's] running the gauntlet 
through the territories of [Ubye, Negiisye, Gobazye, or 
whoever the ruler of Tigre may be], at the risk of being 
stopped and plundered"^, and with the certainty of caus- 
ing (and not without reason) the feelings of that prince 

Consul Cameron was actually stopped by the "rebels" in 1862 
(see page 82); and four years later Mr. Rassam, not being able to 



to become more hostile than before to the British and the 
Protestants, and more favourable to the French and the 
Roman Catholics/' 

Failing of success with Earl Russell, the Foreign Se- 
cretary, I went to the Premier, Viscount Palmerston, 
who received me in his usual affable manner, but put 
me off with, " What can I do in the matter ? It is in 
Lord RusselFs department. I am not a schoolmaster, 
you know : I cannot whip my colleagues/'' Of course 1 
was quite aware of the value of such expressions, the 
fact being that Earl Russell was merely carrying out 
Lord Palmerston's own policy ! I am only surprised that 
so clear-headed a statesman should not have been con- 
scious of the fundamental error of that policy. 

The result was that Consul Cameron went out to Abys- 
sinia to take his predecessor's place at the Court of the 
Emperor Theodore. His official instructions, as pub- 
lished, do not contain any mention of France with re- 
ference to Abyssinia ; but it is evident, from what that 
officer says respecting his first interview with the Em- 
peror Theodore in October 1862, that he had received 
orders " to elicit information from him regarding an in- 
tercourse with his new kingdom of Shoa and his hold 
on the tribes to the side of Zeyla"^ — which had unques- 
tionably a bearing on the proceedings of the French in 
that directionf. In addition to which, just after that 
interview. Consul Cameron received a letter from the 
Consul-General in Egypt, containing a " passage regard- 

pass through Tigre, went by a long- and circuitous route, and still 
was stopped by " rebels " (see page 180). 

* See page 21. t See page 03. 


iiig M. Schaeffer's mission to Tadjurrah, which was cor- 
roborated by an extract from the ' Home and Overland 
Mail/ forwarded from Aden, stating what the mission 
had done, and that the new settlement [at Obokh] was 
merely intended for a base of operations against Abys- 
sinia ;" all of which, Consul Cameron goes on to say, 
" was carefully read through to His Majesty liy two in- 
terpreters well conversant with English " *. 

The futility of all this is demonstrated by the fact that, 
in spite of our Consul's representations to the Emperor 
Theodore, the French have succeeded in making good 
their footing at Obokhf ', while, as regards that mo- 
narch's "new kingdom of Shoa," it has thrown off the 
yoke and reasserted its independence under Menilek, the 
grandson of our ally King Sahela Selasye, whose flight 
from the Emperor's camp on July 1st, 1865, was the 
cause of the British captives having their fetters doubled, 
as has been related J. 

It must be remarked here, that when that prince es- 
caped on a former occasion, he applied to the French 
Consul at Aden. for a supply of fii'carms; and, as I gave 
warning in a letter inserted in the ' Times ' of September 
18th, 1865§, it may be presumed that he has renewed 
his application to that officer, or more probably to the 
authorities at Obokh, which place, after having been neg- 

* See page 72. f See page 63. J See page 145. 

§ The following is an extract from my letter : — '^ Mr. Stern men- 
tions, in his letter given in your impression of the 14th inst., the 
sudden flight from the royal camp of Menilek, Crown Prince of Shoa, 
and son-in-law of the Emperor Theodore ; in consequence of which 
the enraged monarch caused all his Mohaimuedan and Galla prisoners 
to be executed, and fetters to be placed on the hands of their Christian 


lected for some time, has now (if I am correctly informed) 
been taken actual possession of by the French, and a 
garrison placed there. 

Further, on April 22nd, 1863, Earl Eussell wrote to 
Consul Cameron, " You will of course keep Her Majesty's 
Government fully and accurately advised of French pro- 
ceedings in Abyssinia''"^ — after having given that unfor- 
tunate officer orders the effect of which was to shut him 
up in a prison, where he could neither give nor receive in- 
formation of any kind ! 

fellow-captives, iu addition to those they already had on their legs — 
' 20 lb. of foot-chains on our ankles,' as I copy from a letter of one of 
the wretched victims now before me. 

" Were it not for the manner in which the fact of Menilek's escape 
was made feelingly known to Mr. Stern and his friends, one might 
have been inclined to regard his statement as an almost verbal repeti- 
tion of one made in the ' Standard ' of the 20th February last, re- 
specting the flight of Menilek from the royal camp, and the imprison- 
ment of the Abuna, or bishop, on the suspicion of having aided him in 
his escape. 

" On that occasion the fugitive, on his arrival in his native country, 
applied to the French consular agent at Aden for a supply of firearms. 
I cannot say whether or not the representative of France was at all 
disposed to comply with the request ; but I do know that some com- 
munication took place between him and the British authorities at 
Aden, and that the arms were not furnished. The Crown Prince, 
who without them was unable to make head against the Emperor, was 
defeated and taken prisoner, only to escape again as related by INIr. 

" As everything repeats itself in Abyssinia, there can be little 
doubt that Menilek will renew — perhaps has already renewed — his 
application for firearms, either to the French Consul or to some other 
resident at Aden ; and I would therefore avail myself of the medium 
of your widely-circulating journal to express the hope that suitable 
measures may be adopted by the authorities, both at home and abroad, 
to prevent such an application from being successful, as the inevitable 
consequence would be the innnediate execution of our hapless coun- 
trvmen." * See page 104. 


And to place the capital on the column which will ever 
stand as a memorial of British policy in Abyssinia, our 
Government have committed an act which, unless it is 
remedied (as perhaps it might still be) by a total reform, 
has given to Christianity in Eastern Africa the severest 
blow it has sustained since the conquest of Abyssinia by 
Mohammed Granye in the beginning of the 16th century. 

It is wonderful how history sometimes repeats itself. 

At that time, " the discovery then recently made by 
the Portuguese (I am quoting from a work of my own 
published in 1860 *) of the road to India round the 
Cape of Good Hope, had the inevitable consequence of 
turning a large portion of the commerce of the East 
into this new channel, to the serious injury of the Ve- 
netians, who had enjoyed the monopoly of that trade 
through Egypt and the Levant. To obviate this cala- 
mity, the Venetians did not scruple to lend their aid 
to the Mohammedan ruler of Egypt; and in order to 
enable him to cope in the Red Sea with their commercial 
rivals, they built him a powerful fleet of ships at Suez, 
for which they supplied the timber, cut in their own 
forests of Dalmatia, and transported on camels across the 
isthmus of Suez ;'^ with which fleet the Turks soon drove 
the Portuguese out of the Red Sea, taking possession of 
the island of Massowah, their most important post, in the 
year 1558. Now, three centuries later, when there was 
a chance of Abyssinia^s emancipating herself from her 
thraldom, England, animated by a spirit of rivalry simi- 
lar to that of Venice, has induced the Ottoman Porte 
to transfer the entire Abyssinian sea-board to the Pasha 
* ' The Sources-of the Nile,' pp. 92, 93. 


of Egypt, in the hope of thereby preventing France from 
acquiring a footing anywhere along the Avestern coast 
of the Eed Sea"^. 

There is too much reason to fear that this cession 
from Turkey to Egypt has been accompanied by a re- 
cognition qf the absolute right of the former power, not 
merely to the sea- coast, but also to the whole of Abys- 
sinia, as a dominion acquired by conquest in the six- 
teenth ^entury ; the consequence of which is that the 
Christian Abyssinians are henceforth to be regarded as 
vassals, immediately or mediately, of the Porte. In fact, 
the treatment of the pilgrims of that nation at Jeru- 
salem f can only be regarded as a proof that we have been 
consenting to what is equivalent to the delivery of a 
whole Christian nation into slavery; for the domination 
of Turkey over Abyssinia was nominal and had no prac- 
tical effect, whereas that of Egypt is real, active, and 
energetic, and, as her conduct in the surrounding dis- 
tricts but too plainly shows J, will be that of a brutal and 
unmerciful tyrant and oppressor §. 

A plausible justification for this conduct is given by 
Earl Russell in his despatch to Colonel Stanton, which 
his Lordship was unfortunately induced to indite (as 
is correctly stated in a leading article in the ' Times ' of 
November 2nd, 1865) in '^ reply, in eflFect, to the letter 
of Dr. Beke, published in this journal on the 14th of 
September." "I am aware," says his Lordship, "that 
there are persons who wish Her Majesty^s Government 
to interfere in behalf of Abyssinia, as a Christian country, 

* See page 134. t See Chapter VIII. pp. 129-137. 

$ See pages 133-137. § See pages 25-29. 


against Turkey and Egypt, as Mahometan countries. 
But this policy has never been adopted by the British 
Government, and I trust never will be. If we were to 
make ourselves the protectors of the Emperor Theodore 
against the Sultan and his Viceroy of Egypt, we should 
become responsible for his acts, and be entangled in his 
quarrels with all his neighbours and rivals. The obliga- 
tions of the British Government are various enough and 
heavy enough, without undertaking so costly, ha^rdous, 
and unprofitable a protectorate""^. 

Religious considerations being out of the sphere of the 
enlightened statesmanship of the nineteenth century, we 
are left to look for the political advantages which have 
resulted, or are expected to result, from a transaction so 
discreditable to a Christian nation. And it has to be 
asked whether what our Government has done will effec- 
tuate the object they had in view : will it shut out France 
from the Abyssinian sea-board ? 

It will, of course, be conceded that Turkey could not 
assign to Egypt more than she herself possessed ; and as 
far as occupation is requisite to substantiate the right of 
possession, she cannot pretend to possess more than here 
and there a point along the sea-shore. In speaking of 
the cession of that portion of the coast adjoining Zulla, 
which was made by Agau Negusye to the French in 
1859t, M. Munzinger, who thoroughly understands the 
subject in all its bearings, says that " anyhow that coast 
belongs quite as much to the Abyssinians as to the 

* 'Timop,' November 1, 1865. Parliaincntarv Papor, 18GC, 
* Further Correspondence,' &c. pp. 63, 64. 
t See page 58. 


Turks"*; and there can be no doubt he is right f. Still, 
as long as we could consistently support Turkey in in- 
sisting on the observance of the Treaty of Paris, and 
could get her to occupy the coast in such a way as to 
show that her possession was something more than a 
mere naked right, it may have been a wise policy to 
recognize the pretensions of Turkey, or at all events not 
to dispute them. 

But to be parties to the transfer of a naked right from 
the one power to the other, as a means of preventing 
France from acquiring a footing, when this nation neither 
recognizes the validity of that right, nor indeed cares 
to be bound by the Treaty of Paris, or by any other 
treaty, where her interests are concerned — the only 
practical effect of the transaction being to place Chris- 
tian Abyssinia at the mercy of the stronger of the two 
Mohammedan powers, — is certainly neither an enlight- 
ened nor a far-seeing policy. 

On the 8th of last February there appeared in the 
Times/ an article which plainly showed that, notwith- 
''standing this transfer, the French have not in the least 
abandoned their pretensions. When I was in Tigre shortly 
afterwards, I met the writer of that article and several of 
his countrymen, some of whom were members of Comte 
Bisson^s ''French Colony of Abyssinia," having been 

* "Die Kuste .... die jedenfalls den Abyssiniern ebenso gehiirt, 
wie den Tiirken." — ' Ostafrikanische Studien,' p. 48. 

-f- To my personal knowledge, tlie people of Halai and other Abys- 
sinian villages along the edge of the tableland, at the present da}-, till 
the fields in the immediate vicinity of Zulla and harvest the crops, 
and they also pasture their flocks and herds in the meadows close to 
the sea-shore. 


with him on his expedition into the Egyptian frontier 
districts*; and they were cognizant of all that England 
had done to prevent France from acquiring possession 
of the coast^ which they quite ridiculed. They were then 
negotiating with Gebra Medhin^ the Waagshum^s Go- 
vernor of Okulekusai, for the concession of a coalfield 
said to exist near the coast^ at no great distance from 
Massowah ; and they talked very loudly of their inten- 
tion to acquire (I believe they had actually acquired) 
some district on the sea-coast where the Egjqjtians have 
no actual settlement, and then to put at issue the 
right of the Pasha to dispossess them. Shortly after 
my arrival at Massowah, one of the party left for France, 
with the avowed object of getting the Government to 
'' protect French interests.^' 

Though the " Defender of the Faith " does not pro- 
fess to act up to this title anywhere but at home, the 
" Eldest Son of the Church " openly avows that he ex- 
tends his protection to the Roman Catholic missionaries 
"dans tout Funivers^^t- And the Church of Rome and 
her missionaries are not ungrateful. 

From what is related in these pages, it is evddent that 
France receives the greatest support from the Roman 
Catholic mission in Abyssinia; and it is not less certain 
tliat the mission has taken deep root in the country. 
Independently of the church at MassoAvah, to which allu- 
sion has been made J, they have one at Halai and 
another at Ebbo, the Episcopal See, on the edge of the 
tableland further to the north, where is the tomb of 
Msgr. de' Jacobis, the first Bishop, who died a martyr 
• See page 120. f See page 99. J See page 42. 


to tho French cause ^ rather tlian to that of Jlome. 
The present Bishop, Msgr. Bel, is the first l^Venchman 
who has filled the See, his predecessors, Mdiether possess- 
ing the rank of Bishop or of Vicar Apostolic, having been 
Italians. There is likewise a mission at Keren, in Bogos, 
under the direction of Padre Stella, but within the juris- 
diction of Msgr. Bel. I was assured that the number 
of native Abyssinian s who have gone over to the Church 
of Rome is 60,000. This I believe to be an exaggera- 
tion, though there can be no question as to the number 
of converts being considerable ; and it increases daily, 
the native clergy having but little power or influence in 
the frontier districts. 

The diflferent positions of the Roman Catholic and the 
Protestant Missions in that country needs not to be 
dwelt on, except that I would hazard the remark, that far 
better would it have been had the sympathies of Bishop 
Gobat and Dr. Krapf and their friends not been enlisted 
on the side of Bas Ali and his successor Theodore, and 
that they had not (to repeat the words of my letter to 
Lord Palmerston of April 4th, 1848) " joined in the cry 
of Mr. Salt^s party f against Ubye — the usurper, the tyrant, 
the oppressor, as he is called" J . They have now learned, 
at the serious cost of the Protestant cause, of which they 
so long have been the zealous, earnest, conscientious, and 
indefatigable — I only wish I could add judicious and suc- 
cessful — agents, that there are others more deserving of 
those epithets than Dcdjatj Ubye of Tigre, who, by 
the inscrutable decree of an overruling Providence, 

* See page 59. t See page 12. 

I See the Appendix, page 207. 



has long been a fellow-prisoner at Magdala of our ill- 
fated missionaries^ who were taught to look on him as 
their enemy. 

The result is that the Protestant Missions, both the 
London Society's and the Scottish, have been given 
up — or, to speak more properly, they will be with- 
drawn whenever the Emperor Theodore shall permit the 
poor missionaries to leave the country"^; and as soon 
as Mr. Talbot and the six English workmen reach Gatfat 
as substitutes for the liberated captives, it may be an- 
ticipated that Bishop Gobat's artisan missionaries will 
either become completely secularized, or else will have 
to quit Abyssinia like their countrymen the other Pro- 
testant missionaries. Then, with the encroachments of 
Mohammedanism on every side, the only hope of Chris- 
tianity in Abyssinia for safety against annihilation will 
be in Rome and France, as in its last great struggle it 
was in Rome and Portugal. Taught by the experience 
of their precursors, the Lazarists of the 19th century will 
doubtless be in their generation wiser than the Jesuits of 
the 16th and 17th centuries. 

* I have just heard that the members of the Scottish mission, 
Messrs. Stei^-er and Brandeis, have entered the Emperor's service. — 
Decctnher 3rrf, 1866. 




In the preceding Chapter has been considered the policy 
of England with reference to France. We have now 
to notice the efl'ccts of that policy in relation to Abys- 

For this purpose it will not be necessary to go furtlu^r 
back than to Consul Plowden's Report to the Earl of 



Clarendon, dated Gondar, June 25th, 1855*, — although 
from the contents of that report it is evident that there is 
much yet to be learned respecting what had previously 
''been arranged with the Ras Ali'^t- 

Consul Plowden states that on his first interview with 
the Emperor, after urging on him the establishment of a 
Consulate within his dominions, he " ventured to hint 
that the sea-coast and Massowah might possibly be given 
up to him on his consent ^^ J. What authority Mr. Plow- 
den had for making such a proposal does not appear ; but 
at all events it was quite in the spirit of the stipulation in 
the treaty of November 2nd, 1849, between England and 
Abyssinia, that the Sovereigns of the two countries 
should " respectively, to the best of their power, en- 
deavour to keep open and to secure the avenues of ap- 
proach between the sea-coast and Abyssinia ' §. But 
whether he had been previously authorized or not is im- 
material, inasmuch as Lord Clarendon in his reply, dated 
November 27th of the same year, unhesitatingly adopted 
that officer's proposal by saying, " I entirely approve 
your proceedings as reported in that despatch, as well as 
the language held by you at your interview with the King 
Theodorus " \\ ; and he added that the Queen of England 
would receive ambassadors from that monarch, and would 
defray the expenses of their journey to England. 

It is true that the condition was attached that Consul 
Plowden should obtain " from the King a distinct assu- 
rance that he renounced all idea of conquest in Egypt and 

* Parliamentary Paper, 18G0, < Furtlier Con-espondence,' &c., 
pp. 41-47. t Ihid. page 45. 

X See page 4'J. § Seepage 21. || See page 60. 


at Massowah " *. But the nature of an " assurance " of 
the sort is well understood. When obtained it would 
have been worth just as much as that which Lord Cla- 
rendon said had been given by the Viceroy of Egypt not 
to attack Abyssinia. But his lordship added signifi- 
cantly, that " Her Majesty's Government would subject 
themselves to grave suspicions if they received an embassy 
from a sovereign whose designs against the Sultan, the 
ally .of the Queen of England, were p?'eviousIy knoivn to 
them ; " and it is only surprising that Theodore did not 
act on the hint so plainly given him. 

Consul Plowden's despatches between the years 1855 
and 18G0 have not been made public; and it would not 
be worth while to speculate as to what took place in the 
interval- But we know that the death of that officer, 
in March 1860, and that of his comrade, Mr. Bell, in 
October following, unfortunately put a stop to diplomatic 
relations between England and Abyssinia. 

The resumption of these relations by Captain Cameron, 
and the calamitous results of such resumption, have been 
detailed in the preceding pages f, and need not be dwelt 
on here. All that is essential to remark is that, at the 
time of that officer's departure from England, and subse- 
quently, till February 20th, 1862, when Earl Russell wrote 
to the Emperor Theodore the letter given in a former 
page X, Abyssinia continued to be regarded as an indepen- 
dent nation and its sovereign as a frienrl and ally of the 
British Government. 

During the course of the year 1862 a radical change 
took place in the policy of England with respect to 

* See page 51. f Page 66 et seq. J See page 67. 


Abyssinia. What was its precise motive and how it came 
al)out will be best understood when the papers connected 
with "the Abyssinian Question" — particularly those rela- 
ting to the acquisition of Obokh by France — are laid 
before Parliament. Meanwhile we have evidence of the 
change having occurred before the end of that year^ in 
the fact that on October 30th, 1862, Consul Finn, the 
" officious " protector of the Christian Abyssinian pil- 
grims to the Holy Sepulchre, was removed from Jeru- 
salem and replaced by Mr. Moore, who, as the exponent 
of the altered policy of the British Government, at 
once expressed his inability to help those pilgrims, on 
the ground of their being Turkish subjects *. 

Consequently it was in accordance with that altered 
policy that Consul Cameron's negociations with the Em- 
peror Theodore as an independent Sovereign were repu- 
diated, and his interference on behalf of the inhabitants of 
the Abyssinian provinces of Bogos condemned; and as 
Her Majesty's Government had then made up their minds 
" to withdraw as much as possible from Abyssinian en- 
gagements, Abyssinian alliances, and British interference 
in Abyssinia " ■\, the Emperor's request for a mission 
from Bombay was refused J, and his letter to the Queen 
was intentionally left unanswered § ; whilst the unfortu- 
nate Consul himself was ordered, M'hen it was no longer 
in his power, to return to " his post " at the Turkish (now 
Egyptian) island of Massowah ||. 

Sir William Coghlan, who, having long occupied the 
important post of Political Resident at Aden, cannot but 

• See page 131. t See page 130. X See pages 79 and 92. 

§ See pages 149 and 103. || See pages 104, 122, and 215, note. 


be well acquainted with the acts and intentions of our 
Government^ makes use of expressions in his ' Menio- 
randnra on the Abyssinian Difficulty/ printed in the papers 
laid before Parliament in the Session of 1865''", Avhich 
clearly point to the poKtical abandonment of Abyssinia. 
He " assumes/' for instance, that, apart from the release 
of the captives, " any further relations with Abyssinia, 
except as they may affect the object, are not desired by 
Her Majesty's Government;" and again, supposing a 
mission to be sent for that purpose, he adds, " In the 
possible event of the release of the captives before the 
arrival of the mission, and on a certainty that they had re- 
moved beyond the power of the King, it is presumed that 
Her Majesty's Government would not desire the mission to 
go on. British subjects might be warned, and the mission 
would return " f ; and consequently Abyssinia and the 
Abyssinians, both at home and at Jerusalem, would be 
abandoned (bound, as it were, hand and foot) to the 
Sultan and his Viceroy of Egypt. 

There can hardly be any doubt that it was with a view 
to prevent this fatal consummation, that Theodore 
adopted a line of conduct which " grossly violated the 
rules of civilization and of international law." But is 
not this one of those extreme cases which may be said 
to make their own laws ? What other remedy had the 
ill-starred monarch ? Was it not the only way in which 
he could wage war against England ? Had one of the 
Great Powers of Europe been treated half as ill, there 
would have been an immediate commencement of hosti- 

* 'Papers relating to tlie Imprisonment of British Subjects,' 
p. 7. t Ihid. p. 9. 


litics— invasion of territory, seiznre and destruction of 
the property of harmless and inoffensive private indi- 
viduals having no more to do with the quarrel than 
the poor " British Captives in Abyssinia/' personal vio- 
lencCj imprisonment, punishment, nay torture or even 
death, if they resisted or perhaps even complained — a 
Koniggratz (Sadowa) or Custozza, Avith the sacrifice of 
thousands of lives — and all according to the rules of 
civilization and of international law ! 

I do not think of justifying the conduct of the Emperor 
Theodore and his advisers (whoever they may be), any 
more than I can commend that of the King of Prussia 
and Count Bismark. But, like them, he carried on war 
according to his own lights and after his own fashion, 
and like them he gained the victory, England, like 
Austria, being forced — though with infinitely less honour 
— to sue for peace. 

After all the cruelties inflicted on Her Britannic Ma- 
jesty's Consul and the other unfortunate European pri- 
soners, the " renewal of friendship between Abyssinia and 
England was happily established" — at the expense only 
of those " insincere, ill-behaved, ill-mannered, and ill-tem- 
pered " persons who had '' created the breach " between 
the Emperor Theodore and our Queen ; and " every one, 
whether European or Abyssinian, admitted" — and what 
everybody says must be true — " that no sovereign could 
be more attentive and gracious to the representative of a 
foreign government than Theodore of Abyssinia was to- 
Mr. Rassam " ^. 

That monarch being thus admitted within the pale of 

* See page 205. I could cite examples much nearer home of 


civilization^ tlie preliminaries of a treaty were arranged 
between him and the British envoy^ who was, however, 
"detained" awhile by His Majesty — "the object of the 
King being, it is stated, to procure an assurance of good 
disposition towards him liefore the Europeans departed"*; 
and this assurance has accordingly been given in a second 
letter from Her Britannic Majesty to her "good friend," 
the Emperor of Abyssinia, which Mr. Flad is the bearer of, 
and Colonel Merewether is gone to confirm, accompanied 
by Mr. Talbot and six English workmen, who are to take 
the place of Mr. Bassam and the European captives. 

When shattered and prostrate, after the tortures to 
which they had been subjected on the 12th of May, 
1864 — now more than a year and a half ago, and they 
still prisoners ! — Samuel, the Emperor's steward (" that 
compound of malice, hatred, and cunning," as he is called 
by one who has but too much reason to know him f, but 
who seemed to Mr. Bassam to be " really desirous to 
promote a friendly feeling between England and Abys- 
sinia"), said to the unhappy captives, "Do you know 
who lies here ? " pointing to the Consul ; " This is 
Victoria !" 

It was hardly to be imagined that the name of Her 
Majesty and the honour of the British nation could be 
subjected, as they have been, to still greater indignity. 

Suspecting perfidy on tlie part of England — and, alas ! 
he has unhappily too much reason for doing so — the 
Emperor of Abyssinia has put Mr. Bassam and all the 

praise bestowed on Theodore's conduct. But it is not worth while 
now to attract notice to these specimens of flunkyism. 

* See page 221. f See Mr. Stern's letter in the Appendix. 


captives again in chains and sent them to Magdala, where, 
according to the latest intelligence'^, they have passed 
the rainy season. And it is to be dreaded that we have 
not yet seen the end. 

It shall however be assumed, notwithstanding all that 
has passed and in spite of all forebodings, that the Em- 
peror Theodore will listen to the representations made to 
him in Her Britannic Majesty^s second letter, of Avhich 
Mr. Flad is the bearer, and that he will liberate Mr. 
Rassam and all the captives — such being the condition 
on which Colonel Merewether is prepared to carry out 
Mr. Rassam^s arrangements f- Nevertheless it is not at 
all certain whether this compliance with most of his de- 
mands may not still be unavailing. He may insist on 
everything being granted ; and I believe this will not 
be acceded to — that in fact it could not be done unless 
England felt disposed for another Crimean war. What 
then, after all, would our Government have to do ? To 
leave the captives to their fate, or to go to war with 
Theodore himself? 

But we must not look at the dark side. It shall be 
taken for granted that all goes on favourably ; the Em- 
peror is induced to abandon his claims; the captives are 
all liberated ; a treaty signed between the Emperor and 
Colonel Merewether on behalf of Her Britannic Majesty, 
and Mr. Talbot and the six English workmen left behind 
in Abyssinia. What is to happen then? There is no 
need to disguise the fact, that these Englishmen have 
been enlisted into the service of the Abyssinian monarch 
for the purpose of assisting him with the means of sub- 

' See the ' Times ' of November I'O, 18(j6. t See page 231. 


jugatiug his enemies and acquiring the sovereignty of the 
wliole of Abyssinia. Such a scheme might have been 
feasible a fcAV years ago ; but in consequence of the vacil- 
lating policy of the British Government — who encouraged 
Theodore when he ought not to have been encouraged, 
gave him up just at a moment when, if good were ex- 
pected from the alliance, he ought to have been supported 
and not given up, and is now taking him up again when, 
according to all appearances, he is no longer worth taking 
up — there remains scarcely any hope that, even with the 
help of these Englishmen and of the German and other 
artisans he has already in his employ, he will be able, 1 
will not say to conquer the " rebels " and the " Turks," 
but to hold his own against them. 

The following summary of the state of parties in May 
last, will serve to show what his chances are. 

For several years past Theodore has attempted, but in 
vain, to conquer Tadela Gwalu, the hereditary prince of 
Godjam*. Year after year has he led his army across the 

* This warrior is the son of Dedjatj Gwalu, who was the grand- 
son of Ras Hailu, the friend of the traveller Bruce, by whom he is 
called " Ayto Aylo." , 

In the time of Ras Ilailu, a young man named Zaudye (a native 
of Uamot, of Galla extraction, whose history is almost more extra- 
ordinary than that of Theodore himself) raised himself to power, 
and received in marriage Oizoro Dinkanish, the lias's daughter, by 
whom lie was the father of Dedjatj Goshu ("the Father of the 
white men," as Consul Plowden calls him, and my very good friend), 
who was slain in battle by Theodore, and whose son Biru is now 
a captive at Magdala. Through his marriage with Ras Hailu's 
daughter and his own great talent, Dedjatj Zaudye deflected from that 
prince's male descendants the sovereignty of Godjam and Damot, 
which, since the defeat and imprisonment of Biru Goshu, has been 
resumed by Tadela Gwalu, the lineal male heir. 


Abui into the peninsula of Godjam, in the extreme south- 
west of the empire, witli no result except to ravage and 
ruin, though not absolutely to "■ destroy/^ those un- 
happy districts* ; Avhilst Tiidela himself retires into his 
fortresses, jNIutera and Djibella, impregnable by nature, 
where he laughs the invader to scorn. 

The resistance of Tadela may be regarded as the proxi- 
mate cause of Theodore's downfall, inasmuch as it has 
shown to the nation at large that the " King of Kings,'' 
the would-be conqueror of all nations, can be withstood. 
At one time his prestige was such that he had only to 
approach at the head of a victorious army, and the 
" rebels," in however great force, were unable to offer 
any firm resistance, and either dispersed without striking 
a blow, or else went over bodily to his side. 

I have reason to know that the faith in Theodore's 
invincibility has been, and even to this day is, enter- 
tained not only in Abyssinia, but likewise in England, 
by persons whose opinions must necessarily have great 
weight with our Government. Even Mr. Flad, when in 
this country, expressed himself in this sense, he ha^dng 
such a dread of the despot as to imagine that every one 
else must look on him as he and those about the Court 
have only too much reason to do f. 

Meanwhile, Theodore's absence from the other pro- 
vinces of Abyssinia nearer to the coast has allowed their 

* See page 189. 

t The petty tyranny of Theodore is such, that if he calls to a 
person about him to come, and that person does not fly at the bidding 
— not walk even quickly, but actually run — he is saluted with all 
sorts of abusive epithets, and often " gets the stick " for keeping the 
impatient despot waiting. 


rulers to gain strength, and, in tlic case of Slioa and 
Tigre, to make alliances with the French, if not with 
France, and in their turn to obtain not merely machines 
and gunpowder makers, but likewise soldiers and fire- 
arms, by which means they may be expected to be able 
to counteract all that Mr. Talbot and his assistants will 
be able to perform. 

Several months ago, as I stated in the ' Times ' of 
October 1st, ''there was a talk of some French officers 
of the army of Algiers going out to Northern Abys- 
sinia, taking with them several light pieces of artillery." 
And I added the expression of my belief that on this 
point, as well as that of the earlier application of the 
King of Shoa to the French Consul at Aden for a supply 
of firearms, to which allusion has been made in a former 
page ■^, " representations had been made to the Go- 
vernment of France." But I added, not without reason, 
that ''natives of that country may have gone to Abys- 
sinia nevertheless;" and the mission of Mr. Talbot and 
his English companions, to a monarch who has set the 
Emperor Napoleon at defiance and has virtually declared 
war against France t^ must of course deprive the Eng- 
lish Government of all further right to make represen- 
tations or demand explanations on the subject. 

As to the Kingdom of Shoa, it has (as already stated J) 
reasserted its independence under the sovereignty of Me- 
nilek, the grandson of Sahela Selasye; and it is gene- 
rally considered that the resubjugation of that country is 
hopeless. If, as is probable, now that the French are so 
near to him at Obokh, the King of Shoa has renewed the 

* See page 260. t See page 101. J See page 145. 


alliance with France — which was established through M. 
Rochet, and to counteract which was the fruitless object 
of Major Harris's mission in 1841 * — it may be looked 
on as certain that the Emperor Theodore will never have 
it in his power to conquer Shoa, or even to make head 
against King Menilek should he become the aggressor. 

The revival of the two provinces of Tigre and Shoa 
as separate and independent kingdoms, setting Theodore 
at defiance, coupled with the persistent rebellion of 
Tadela Gwalu in Godjam, has, in point of fact, placed 
the Abyssinian Empire in the position in which it was 
under the puppet Emperors, before his accession to the 
throne. The resemblance will be seen to be complete 
when we have said a few words respecting the other por- 
tions of the now disintegrated Empire. 

In the centre of Abyssinia, a female leader named 
Warkyet, a relative of Oizoro Menen, Ras Ali^s mother, 
is at the head of the powerful tribes of Mohammedan 
Wollo Gallas, and threatens to wrest from Theodore all 
his most valued and dearly bought conquests in that di- 
rection, including Amba Magdala, his principal hold, 
which has obtained such unenviable notoriety as the 
Englishmen's prison. Had warlike measures against 
Theodore been decided on, it might have been no 
difficult task to enlist these Gallas on our side, and 
by their means to have obtained possession of Magdala 
by a coup de main, and so perhaps have liberated the cap- 
tives, though not in the way recently suggested by Dr. 
Krapf, to whose proposition, however, the serious con- 
sideration of the Foreign Office has been accorded, not- 
* See pjige 13. 


withstanding that there are in the archives of that oiHee 
conclusive proofs of its ineligihility ! 

In the north-west, in Walkait, Semyeiij and the neigh- 
bouring provinces, a chief named Tessu Gobazye, a non- 
veau-ne, has for some time past held sway and become 
virtually independent, he having extended his occupation 
of the country as far as Gondar, and even beyond. It 
is he whose troops stopped Mr. Rassam in January last, 
when only a few miles from Gondar '^. When I was in 
Abyssinia, I heard that he and Waagshum Gobazye 
had formed an alliance, the basis of which was that 
they should each oppose Theodore to the death, and 
that whichever of the two killed him or made him 
prisoner should be recognized as Emperor by the other. 
But this I am slow to credit, because I have been 
informed, on good authority, that the Waagshum in- 
tends to declare himself Emperor with the aid of the 
King of Shoa and of the French, and to be crowned 
by the name of Hizkiasf or Hezekiah — there being a 
native prophecy that a monarch of that name shall reign, 
who is to be the precursor of the true Teodros or Theo- 

In North-eastern Abyssinia, Deras, the W^aagshum's 
lieutenant in Tigre, who in the beginning of March last 
had sustained a complete defeat at the hands of Tekla 
Georgis, the brother and deputy of Ras Bariau, Theo- 
dore's lieutenant, was, when I left the country in May, 
regaining strength ; whilst Tekla Georgis, who in the 

* Se« page 180. 

t This is the " Ischias " of Bruce, who almost invariably gives the 
native names wrongly- 


very flush of victory had had his army destroyed by 
cholera, was obliged to retire into Shire, his native pro- 
vince, where he was raising an army to replace the one 
destroyed. Deras, on the other hand, had united his 
forces at Adigrat to those of the Governor of A game, 
Subbart, the son of Sabagadis, the friend of the English 
in the time of Mr. Salt and of Bishop Gobat. Gebra 
Medhin, the Governor of Okulekusai, the district in which 
Halai is situated, whose troops had dispersed on the defeat 
of Deras by Tekla Georgis, had again collected an army 
of some force, and had moved westward in the direction 
of the Mareb. 

All these chiefs acknowledge the supremacy of Waag- 
shum Gobazye, between whom and Tessu Gobazye the 
whole of Northern Abyssinia was divided, with the ex- 
ception of Shire, Serawe, and Hamasyen, which were still 
held by governors named by Theodore. The latter had 
just written an abusive letter to Dedjatj Hailu, the 
governor of the two last-named provinces, calling him 
the one-eyed son of a bad woman (he has lost an eye in 
battle), and ordering him to cross the Mareb and attack 
Gebra Medhin. 

I have heard that one of Theodore's objects in send- 
ing Hailu into Okulekusai was to fetch myself and my 
wife, for whose arrival he was very anxious; and Tekla 
Georgis wrote to me from Axum, that if I did not choose 
to wait for his coming, my better course would be to try 
the road across the Mareb into Hamas_yen, which I might 
have done, had not Gebra Medhin moved directly across 
my path. But different counsels prevailed at the Em- 
peror's court, and on May 28th, as has already been 


related ^, the second letter, written in English, was sent to 
me, ordering me to leave Halai and return to Massowah. 
I am grateful for the order, whatever may have been the 
cause of its being given. 

Such then was the state of Abyssinia when I left that 
country in the beginning of last May. At that time the 
general impression was, that some important military 
operations were likely to take place before the setting in 
of the rainy season. The Waagshum, whose movements 
had for several months previously been concealed, evi- 
dently with an object, but who was generally beHeved to 
have gone southward f — perhaps to Shoa — was expected 
in Tigre to pass the winter there. At the same time it 
was currently reported that Ras Bariau, the Emperor's 
governor of that province, would come and place himself 
at the head of the army his brother Tekla Georgis was 
collecting, to drive the Waagshum out and hold pos- 
session for the Emperor — nay, that the Emperor him- 
self was coming into Tigre, from which province no tri- 
bute has been received by him for the last three years %. 

The * Times ^ of July 23rd last contained an extract 
from a Cairo newspaper, 'II Commercio,' under date of 
July 7th, announcing that a tremendous battle was immi- 
nent between the armies of the Emperor and the Waag- 
shum, and that it was calculated there would be not less 
than 150,000 combatants in the field §. 

* See page 218. 

t During part of the time he went and destroyed Zebit, as is men- 
tioned in page 143. 

X See the ' Times ' of April 7, 1866. 

§ In the ' Times ' of July 25th I commented on this intelligence, 
pointing out how it agreed with what I had myself heard. 



On September 17tb, nearly two montlis afterwards^ 
a telegram from Constantinople appeared in the ' Times ' 
and otlier newspapers, announcing that an engagement 
had actually taken place near Abrin [Axum or Adowa ?] 
hetween the Abyssinians and the Tigre insurgents, and 
that the Emperor was expected Avith reinforcements. 

A week later, namely on September 24th, an article 
■appeared in the ' Times ' from the Paris correspondent of 
that journal, reproducing a long account which had ap- 
peared in the '^Nice Journal,^ of what is there styled ''the 
battle of Axum,''^ said to have been fought on July 30th, 
between the army of Theodore and the insm-gents of 
Tigre a7id Shoa. The account was communicated by 
Comte Bisson, who signed himself " Founder of the 
French Colony of Abyssinia,^^ and said he had received it 
in the form of a report from one of his colonists present 
at the battle. Theodore was stated to have been at the 
head of 95,000 men ; and the forces of the insurgents were 
estimated to have been ratlicr larger. Several English- 
men were alleged to have been in arms against the Em- 
peror. In the report we find such expressions as these: — 
" The English were there, in constant communication 
with Aden : the insurgents drew arms and supplies from 
that place " — " three pieces of artillery of English manu- 
facture " were taken from them — and " among the Ti- 
grean dead were recognized Egyptians and some English 
faces, especially in the fort. No doubt but that officers of 
that nation directed all the evolutions of the battle," &c. 

All this is so utterly improbable that, if the story is 
not a pure fiction from beginning to end, it is meant as a 
blind to conceal the fact that tlic Europeans present in 

"the battle of AXUm" DISBELIEVED. 201 

the army of Waagslmm Gobazye (tlie intended Emperor 
Hezekiah) were Frenchmen and not Englishmen, and 
that tlie field-pieces, even if of English manufacture, were 
introduced into Tigre by French officers — not improbably 
those I heard of several months ago, as has just ]jeen 

There appears to be, I do not know for what reason, 
a determination on the part of every one who has any 
relations Avith Her Majesty's Government, to deny alto- 
gether the fact of any great battle — or indeed any battle 
at all — having been fought in Tigre before the rains. 
As to the idea of Theodore's having been present at such 
a battle, it is looked on as preposterous. Mr. Flad him- 
self published a letter in the ' Times ' of September 2Gtli 
last, to show how utterly impossible it was for Theodore 
to have transported an army in twenty-three days from 
Debra Tabor, where he was on July 7th, to Axum, 
where the battle was said to have been fought on the 
30th of the same month. But, as I stated in the same 
journal on October 1st, and from the several facts w^iicli 
I have just related, it is indisputable that the Em- 
peror's army was already in Tigre, as were likewise the 
united forces of Tigre and Slioa — 150,000 combatants in 
all, as stated in the Cairo newspaper; a battle was 
said to be imminent ; the Emperor was expected to 
arrive with reinforcements ; and as the distance between 
Dcbra Tabor and Axum is only 170 English statute miles 
in a direct line, it stands to reason that a strategist like 
Theodore, whose great successes have mainly resulted 
from his rapid marches, frequently by night, and fi'om 
* See page 285. 


his falling unexpectedly on the enemy "^^ might easily 
have performed that distance^ at the head of a select 
or even a large body of cavalry, in much less time than 
twenty-three days f. 

I cannot then bring myself to doubt the fact of an im- 
portant battle having been fought in Tigre before the 
rainy season fully set in, and that, whether the Em- 
peror was there or not in person, the result was un- 
favourable to him. Comte Bisson^s correspondent asserted 
that, in consequence of the repulse, if not defeat, which 
the Emperor sustained, he had ^'^in his exasperation 
ordered the immediate execution of all the English 
captives, sparing only the women and children.^^ But, 
thank God, this we know to be untrue, because news has 
just been received from Massowah that at about the end 
of September the captives were all alive, though still in 
chains at Magdala. 

It now only remains for me to say a few words respect- 
ing the future policy of England with regard to Abyssinia. 

* See page 143. 

t In the ' Times ' of October 1st 1 stated that, " In the year 184-3 
I went from Debra Tabor to Adowa, which is close to Axum, by a 
circuitous route through Lasta, the Waagshum's country, and my 
actual time on the road was 121^ hours. My diary is published in the 
'Journal of the Royal Geogi'aphical Society,' vol. xiv. pp. 51-62, with 
a map." Now, allowing as much as double the direct distance for the 
irregularities of surface and deflections from the straight line, the dis- 
tance to be travelled between the two extremes would be 340 statute 
miles, and supposing the Emperor to have travelled only twice as fast 
as I did, the journey would have occupied him sixty-two hours in the 
saddle ; and to say that he could not perform such a journey between 
the 7th and 30th July — twenty-three days — is too absurd to be 
insisted on for a moment when the matter is thus put to the test of 


Should all result favourably as regards the prisoners, 
Colonel Merewether will, it is presumed, proceed to the 
Emperor^s court and conclude with him the treaty, of 
which the preliminaries have been settled by Mr. Ilassam. 
In the present state of affairs it is not very intelligible 
what can be the object of that treaty. Theodore may be 
nominally Emperor of Abyssinia, but his power is much 
weakened, if not entirely gone; and it is much to be 
questioned whether an alliance with England would 
restore it unless our Government should engage to sup- 
port him on the throne. " Machines and gunpowder- 
makers '^ alone will not help him now, I fear ; and it is 
hardly to be imagined that England would bind herself 
to support him by any other means. 

And yet it is manifest that Mr. Talbot and the English 
workmen, who have gone to Abyssinia under the guarantee 
of the British Government, cannot be left without pro- 
tection. It would not now do to say, '' British subjects 
might be warned, and the mission would return ^^*. Con- 
sul Cameron wisely foresaw this very case, when in his 
letter of October 22nd, 1862, he urged on the Emperor 
the recognition of a Consul within his dominions, in the 
foUowiug terms : — " Some arrangement, at any rate, on 
this point wiU be necessary, if your Majesty really wishes 
to keep up a close friendship with England. I feel 
certain, too, that if English artisans were to come here, 
as I have heard is your Majesty ^s wish, it would 
be impossible for them to stay, unless there wa.s an 
officer of some kind, either Envoy or Consul, to look 
after them " t- 

* See page 279. t ^('e the Appendix, page 314. 


As already stated^, tlie ' Times ^ of July 8tli contains an 
extract from a letter which I Avrote from Halai to a per- 
son of high rank in England, on the 27th of April, before 
the news of Mr. Rassam's alleged final success reached 
me. In that letter I predicted the detention of Mr. 
Rassam, and asked the question, '' What would Her 
Majesty^s Government do in such a case?" And I pro- 
ceeded to suggest a certain course of action. When 
the present Administration came into office, I anticipated 
that my letter of April 27th, as well as a previous one of 
March 28th, would have been communicated to Lord 
Stanley. I have reason to believe that it was not so, or 
that, if it was, the communication was made officially, in 
which case it would of com'se have shared the fate of my 
previous communications to the Foreign Office. It is 
perhaps well that it should have been so; for the con- 
tents of my letters were not likely to be appreciated 
either by the Foreign Secretary or by the public without 
a previous thorough knowledge of all the facts. At the 
present moment my suggestions would be out of place; 
but the time may yet come when they will be deserving 
of consideration. 

The intelligence which we may shortly expect to receive 
from Abyssinia will be franght with interest, as regards 
not only the fate of the British captives, but also the 
destinies of that country, as resulting from the conduct of 
its' present ruler, and likewise from the movements of 
the princes of Tigre and Shoa and their French allies. 

As matters now stand it would appear that all that 
England has been doing in Abyssinia during the last 
* See page 226. 


twenty years has been to no good purpose, and that in 
fact we are politically in a worse position than we were 
when Mr. Plowden was appointed Consul in Abyssinia ; 
for our only alliance is with the Emperor Theodore in his 
present crippled state, — and even that alliance is not 
from choice, but is forced on us by an anxiety to get our 
unfortunate countrymen and others out of his hands; 
whilst France has not only obtained a settlement on the 
sea-coast at the southern extremity of Abyssinia, but is 
likely now to obtain one also in the north, through ter 
alliance with the rising sovereign of Tigre, who will perhaps 
eventually become the ruler of the whole of Abyssinia. 

In conclusion then I do not see that I can do otherwise 
than reiterate the closing words of my pamphlet, ' The 
French and English in the Red Sea,^ published more than 
four years ago^ : — 

'' Such are the interested but at the same time en- 

* This was in fact only a repetition of the warning I gave in a 
letter to Viscount Palmerston, dated August 21st, 1851, now more than 
fifteen years ago. My words at that time were these : — *' At the 
present moment, England appears to have gained the ascendancy in 
EgTpt, but we have no right to expect that this will always be the 
case ; and, even while it lasts, it may and dotibtless will only lead to 
efforts on the paH of France to acquire a counterpoise in the south. Any 
attempts in that quarter might, however, be effectually prevented, and 
at a trifling outlay, were only suitable measures at once adopted. If, 
on the contrary, such measures are delayed, they may at a future period 
become difficult, if not impracticable. And as, on account of our 
Indian possessions, it is absolutely essential that British influence 
should continue to preponderate in Egypt; and as, consequently, it 
will be imperative on our nation to proceed even to the last extremi- 
ties for the maintenance of that preponderance, — if not, indeed, in 
order to regain it after it shall have been lost ; we may, in the result, 
be forced to atone for present neglect by the sacrifice of millions of 
treasure and tens of thousands of human lives." 


lightened views of France, which she will continue to 
carry out by all the means in her power, and (as is mani- 
fest) without being over-scrupulous as to the character of 
those means. England, on the other hand, after inter- 
meddling most needlessly and mischievously in the affairs 
of Abyssinia, appears now to be simply drifting with the 
current of events, which she knows not how to stem. 
Circumstances will, however, be sooner or later such as to 
force her to intervene with an armed hand, and (as she 
usfially does) to atone for past incapacity and neglect by 
the sacrifice of millions of treasure and tens of thousands 
of human lives. ^' 


Letter from Dr. Beke to Viscount Palme rston, G.C.B., 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated April dt/i, 

[Referred to in pages 22 and 263.] 

Mt Loed, 

Eeferring to the letter which I had the honour of ad- 
dressing to j our Lordship on the 25th ultimo *, I now feel it to 
be my duty to offer a few remarks on the subject of the policy 
which, during a number of years past, would appear to have 
been adopted by the British Grovernment with regard to 
Abyssinia ; since it is not improbable that the effects of that 
policy would exercise some influence on any operations that 
might be attempted to be carried out in accordance with the 
suggestions contained in my said letter. 

When Mr. Salt undertook his mission to Abyssinia in the 
year 1810, he became acquainted with a young native chief 
named Sabagadis, of whose disposition and talents he Avas 
induced to form a high opinion, and whose future elevation he 
foretold. Mr. Salt's prognostications were so far fulfilled, that, 
in 1818, subsequently to the death of Eas Walda Selasye (the 

[* This was a letter on the subject of the Victualling of an Army in 
the Red Sea, addressed simultaneously to Lord Palmerston and to the 
kite Duke of Wellington, who was then Commander-in-Chief.] 


prince of Tigrc, to whom the British Envoy had delivered the 
presents originally destined for the Emperor), Sabagadis 
acquired the rule of that province, which he retained about 
thirteen years. But, in the beginning of the year 1831, he 
was defeated in battle and slain by the united forces of Eas 
Marye and Dedjatj Ubye ; and on this event the latter prince 
assumed the government of Tigre, which he has since retained, 
in addition to his hereditary province of Semyen, to the west of 
the river Takkazye. 

The friendship between Mr. Salt and Dedjatj Sabagadis was 
lasting ; and it would appear to have formed the groundwork 
of all the relations (mth the exception of Major Harris's mis- 
sion to Shoa) which have since been maintained between Eng- 
land and Abyssinia. As long as Sabagadis lived, he was 
doubtless deserving of the friendship entertained towards him 
not only by the British Government but by all British travel- 
lers in Abyssinia, But his rule of Tigre was one of force, not 
of right. It was established by himself, and died with him. 
In its subsequent relations, therefore, with Abyssinia, the true 
policy of England was to have cultivated the friendship of that 
chiefs successor de facto. Instead of which a morbid feeling 
has arisen in favour of the family of Sabagadis ; and the kindly 
sentiments towards that prince, which were originated by 
Mr. Salt, have been transferred to his children and relatives, 
and fostered in a most undue manner by Mr. Salt's dependent 
and adherent, Mr. Coffin, who has taken up his residence in 
Abyssinia. It is not intended to impute to that individual 
improper motives for his partisanship in favour of the family 
of Sabagadis, but simply to explain the origin of the existing 
prejudices against the actual ruler of Tigre. 

This hostile; feeling against Ubye has likewise been pro- 
moted by other circumstances of an entirely independent 
nature. Dr. Gohat, the present Bishop of Jerusalem, was 
the first Protestant missionary to Abyssinia in the time of 
Dedjatj Sabagadis, l)y whom lie was very favourably received. 


That able and prudent missionary was most careful not to 
offend the prejudices of the ignorant native priesthood. His 
successors in the mission, who visited Northern Abyssinia 
in the time of Dedjatj TJbye, were, however, not always so 
guarded, so that they soon excited the hostility of the priests ; 
and as Ubye never had any special reason to be favourable 
to the British missionaries — or it may rather be said that 
he had cause to be opposed to them, seeing that British 
sympathies have always been exhibited in favour of Sabagadis's 
family, who have been constantly in rebellion against his 
government — it is not at all surprising that he should have 
felt no inclination to interfere between our missionaries and 
their enemies. The consequence has been that they have 
been compelled to abandon the country. 

Prom this cause the missionaries have joined in the cry of 
Mr. Salt's party against Ubye — the usurper, the tyrant, the 
oppressor, as he is called. But the condemners of this prince 
have omitted to say that his title is at least as good as that of 
his predecessor ; that while Sabagadis held possession of Tigre 
barely thirteen years, Ubye has kept it upwards of seventeen 
years*, in spite of the incessant efforts of the various members 
of Sabagadis's family, whom the leniency of this " tyrant " has 
alone prevented him from crushing long ago ; that it is, in 
fact, to this constant state of rebellion, which (it is to be 
feared) has to a certain extent been encouraged by the En- 
glish, that the unsettled and distressed condition of Tigro is 
mainly attributable ; and that, as regards Ubye's character, 
whether as a prince or as a man, it ^vill bear comparison with 
that of the much-lauded Sabagadis or any other of the princes 
of Abyssinia. 

Such, at least, is the opinion entertained respecting the 
reigning sovereign of Tigre by travellers of all nations except 
England ; and this brings me to the point to which I would 

* [Ubye had held rule in Tigre twenty-four j'ears, when he was 
conquered by Kassai, as narrated in page .'53.] 

X 2 


desire more especially to direct your Lordship's attention. In 
consequence of the unfriendly feelings thus entertained by the 
English and Protestants generally towards Dedjatj Ubye, that 
prince has been abandoned to French and Roman Catholic 
influences. It is Ms favour that all French agents and travel- 
lers have sought to cultivate; it is he to whom presents have 
on more than one occasion been sent hy the late Government 
of France, and with whom diplomatic relatio7is have been 
entered into hy that Government ; while it is in his territories, 
in tvhich our Protestant missionaries have been unable to keep 
their footing, that a Roman Catholic onission, emanating from 
the Hue du Sac in Far is, has firmly and (as it tvould seem) 
permanently established itself. 

The dominions of Dedjatj Ubye extend from Massowah at 
least 160 miles to the west and south. In the accompanying 
Map their approximate limits are represented by a red shade, 
from which it will be seen that, without passing through them, 
no communication whatever can be held between the port 
of Massowah and any portion of Abyssinia. Hence it is 
manifest that, if it be deemed expedient to establish rela- 
tions of any kind with that country through Massowah, it 
is in the first place essential to cultivate the friendship of 
the sovereign whose dominions surround that port in every 

It is much to be feared that these matters have not been 
placed before your Lordship in a proper light : otherwise the 
fact would not be (as I regret to understand it is) that the first 
ofiicial interference of the British Government in tlie affiiirs of 
Northern Abyssinia since the time of IMr. Salt has been the 
commissioning of Mr. Plowden, the newly appointed Consul in 
that country, to be the bearer of presents to Dedjatj Ubye's 
great rival, Eas Ali — a chief who has no jurisdiction or autho- 
rity within the dominions of the former, and whose residence, 
Debra Tabor, situate at least 250 miles from the coast, is only 
to be reached by Mr. Plowden's running the gauntlet througli 


the territories of Ubye*, at the risk of being stopped and plun- 
dered, and with the certainty of causing (and not without rea- 
son) the feelings of that prince to become more hostile than 
before to the British and the Protestants, and more favourable 
to the French and the E-oraan Catholics. 

I do not believe that, in his heart, Ubye has a greater regard 
for one European nation than for another. Like the rest of the 
native rulers of Abyssinia, ho principally seeks his own per- 
sonal aggrandizement ; and, if it were only made equally worth 
his while, he would doubtless be just as ready to favour the 
English as the French. It is to be hoped, therefore, that Her 
Britannic Majesty's Consul will have had authority given him 
to exercise his discretion with respect to the presents destined 
for E-as Ali ; so that he may be at liberty to deliver them to 
Dedjatj TJbye, in the same way that Mr. Salt delivered to 
Walda Selasye, Ubye's predecessor in the government of Tigre, 
the presents of which he was the bearer to the Emperor of 

The Emj)eror was then in the power of E-as Guksa, the 
grandfather of Eas Ali, just as the reigning Emperor is at the 
present day in that of Eas AYi himself It is true that Walda 
Selasye, who was then, as Ubye is now, the independent ruler 
of Tigre, had, at the time of Mr. Salt's first visit to Abyssinia 
in 1805, been the Eas or vizier of the empire ; but at the time 
of that gentleman's diplomatic mission he was no longer so, 
having been dismissed by the new Emperor whom his rival, 
Eas Guksa, had placed on the throne at Gondar. Eas Guksa, 
as the actual Eas or vizier, was therefore the legal representa- 
tive of the reigning Emperor, and consequently he was the 
person to whom, de jure, the presents to that sovereign from 
the British Government ought to have been delivered. The 

[* In December 1862, Consul Cameron, when carrying the Emperor 
Theodore's letter to the Queen, was stopped in Tigre by a " rebel " 
chief, as described in page 82. In the spring of 1866, my wife and I 
could not pass through Tigre for the "rebels."] 


only principle ou which we may justify Mr. Salt's delivering 
these presents to Walda Selasye, the dismissed Ras or vizier of 
the nominal empire, but still the independent sovereign of the 
province of Tigre, is that tvJdch at the present day is so deci- 
dedly recognized by the British Government — namely, the re- 
fraining from all interference in the domestic affairs of a foreign 
nation, and simply entering into relations with the existing 
government de facto. 

As regards the title of Kas or vizier, the truth is, that, in 
the present disorganized condition of Abyssinia, that title is 
just as nominal as that of Emperor. Any chief who is able 
to march on Gondar, the capital, and with the concurrence 
of the Abiiua or Coptic Bishop, to place a new puppet Em- 
peror on the throne, may receive that dignity at his hands. 
The relative position of Dedjatj Ubye and Ras Ali is most 
correctly expressed in the following answer, given to King 
Louis Philippe by one of the native Abyssinians who accom- 
panied Lieutenant Lefebvre to Paris with presents from the 
former prince : — ■" Le Eoi nous demanda quel etait le chef le 
plus puissant de notre pays, si Oubie etait Dedjasmatche par 
la volonte de Eas Ali, ou par son droit seul. Nous repondimes 
que I'un et I'autre n'avait de droit que par la force; qu'il 
cxistait un empereur en titre, qui avait bien tout le droit, mais 
sans force pour le soutenir." 

Such is simply the state of the case. Each provincial 
governor in Abyssinia (and the King of Shoa is de jure no- 
thing more) is de facto an independent sovereign ; and the 


SEPARATELY IN Ills OWN DOMINIONS. This is tlic more essen- 
tial in the case of Ubye, the Dedjazmatj (Duke) of Tigre and 
Semyen. He is the potentate de facto, tvith ivhom alone we 
should he brought into connexion in the event of an establish- 
ment, whether consular or otherwise, being formed at Massowah ; 
and the recognition of him simply in that capacity would not 
implicate us with any of the native rulers, nor mix us up ivith the 


internal affairs of the country. To enter into friendly relations 
with Has All or any other of the princes of Northern Abyssinia 
tvould, on the contrary, he virtually an offensive alliance against 
Dedjatj TJhye. 

My long residence in Abysssinia and my yet longer study 
of the history of that country, both before and since my 
journey thither, justify me in forming a decided opinion on 
the subject of the present letter. I am persuaded that I have 
no need to apologize to your Lordship for the freedom with 
which I have ventured to express that opinion. 

I have the honour, &c. 


Proposal for a Tram-road between the Cotton-fields of 
Ethiopia and the Coast of the Red Sea. 

[Referred to in page 239.] 

It is proposed to construct a Tram-road from the coast of 
the Red Sea, near the port of Suwakin, in about 19° north 
latitude, to the valley of the Upper Nile, near the junction of 
the Atbara with the main stream, for the purpose of affording 
a ready access to and outlet from the extensive Cotton-fields 
of Ethiopia, and otherwise opening up the trade with the 
southernmost portion of the dominions of the Pasha of Egypt. 

The length of the proposed Road would be about 225 En- 
glish statute miles, the whole being within the territories of 
the Pasha, except a few miles on the sea-coast, subject to the 
Turkish dovernment *. 

Prom the nature of the country, the construction of such a 
Tram-way would be of simple and inexpensive character. 
There do not appear to be any engineering difficulties to 

[* This coast has since been transferred to Egypt, as is mentioned 
in page lo4.] 



encounter or heavy works to construct. From a comparison 
of the measurements of various travellers who have ascended 
the Nile, the elevation of the bed of the river at El Mukheir- 
rift", just below the junction of the Atbara, is 1082 English 
feet above the sea. This, on the estimated length of 225 
statute miles, gives rather less than 5 feet per mile, or about 
1 in 1000, for the general inclination from west to east be- 
tween the two extremities of the line. The intervening 
country partakes, more or less, of this general inclination, 
without being traversed by mountain-ranges, or indeed by any 
elevation of importance in the line of the proposed com- 

This latter point is established by the peculiar natural cha- 
racter of the locality. The river Atbara (the ancient Asta- 
boras) receives, at a short distance above its junction with the 
Nile, a tributary called Khor-el- Crash, which, though in the 
dry season it ceases almost if not entirely to flow, spreads its 
waters during the rains over the flat country of Taka or El- 
Gash, situate to the south-west of Suwakin, at a short distance 
from the sea-coast. These waters when at their highest find 
two outlets, the one being north-west towards the river Atbara, 
while the other turns off" north-eastward to the Eed Sea, near 

In the year 1852 two Erench travellers, MM. de Malzac 
and Vayssiere, following the course of the valley running from 
Eillik in the north of Taka to Tokiir, a Turkish military post 
about thirty miles south of Suwakin, found it to carry down to 
the Eed Sea during the rains a portion of the waters from 
Taka. It is evidently this valley which is intended by M. 
Linant, the Pasha of Egypt's engineer- in-chief, who, when 
alluding, in a conversation with Sir John Bowring (see his ' Ee- 

* This remarkable fact, which affords an instance of the natural 
phenomenon of the bifurcation of a river high up its course, as exem- 
plified in the Cassiqmaro of South America, was known to the Egyp- 
tian geographer Artemidorus more than 2000 years ago. 


port on Egyjjt and Candia'), to the Abyssinian tradition tliat 
art might stop the course of a portion of the waters of tlie 
Nile or direct them into a difierent channel, expressed the 
opinion that the Atbara might easily be turned into the Red 
Sea at Suwakin, for the reason that it passes over plains and 
sands, and that the remains of a bed or canal, already traced 
by human hands, exist from the river to the coast*. 

This, then, appears to afford the natural course for a road 
from the sea-coast upwards as far as tlie plains. Once arrived 
there, the entire country through which the Nile, the Atbara, 
and the Khor-el-Grash flow, is so perfectly flat, that the full of 
the Nile has been ascertained to be only 8 inches per mile, 
which is equivalent to an inclination of 1 in 7500, being prac- 
tically a dead level. 

Such, approximatively, would be the line of the proposed 
Tram-way. Its precise course has to be determined by means 
of a special and accurate survey. 

The country which the Tram-road is intended to serve has 
next to be considered. It is, in a general way, that portion of 
North-eastern Africa contiguous to the shores of the Eed Sea, 
lying south of Egypt and Nubia and within the limits of the 
tropical rains. By the ancients it was called " Ethiopia above 
Egypt" — though this designation comprised also the country 
lying more to the south, now known as Abyssinia, to which, 
how^ever, on the present occasion it is unnecessary to allude 

Though for ages past these regions have remained neglected 
and almost unknown, it is nevertheless certain that in former 

* The celebrated Albuquerque proposed to draw oft' the waters of 
the Nile in this direction, so as to prevent their flowing down into 
Egypt. The particidars of this scheme are related in my work, ' Tlie 
Sources of the Nile,' p. 89 seq. [At the Meeting of the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science at Nottingham in 18GG, 
I read, in Section E, on August 22nd, a paper " On the Possibility of 
Diverting the Waters of the Nile into the Eed Sea."] 


times they were famous for the cotton they produced. lu 
proof of this it will be sufBcient to refer to Pliny, who in his 
' Natural History ' tells us that " Ethiopia, the country ad- 
joining Egypt, possesses scarcely any trees of importance, 
except those bearing wool," — a statement which the writer 
explains in a subsequent passage, where he says more expli- 
citly that " the higher parts of Egypt, towards Arabia, pro- 
duce a certain shrub or bush, which some call gossypium and 
others xylon, whence the flax made from it is called xylina {i. e. 
tree-flax). This plant is but small, and it bears a fruit re- 
sembling a filbert, from the inner cocoon {homhyx) of which is 
spun a downy thread, with which there is nothing comparable 
for whiteness or softness. Hence, garments made of it are 
much esteemed by the Egyptian priests." 

In Egypt it is traditional that, from time immemorial, there 
has existed in the regions whence flow the waters of the Nile a 
fine quality of cotton, only known from the specimens of native 
manufacture occasionally brought to Cairo by the gellahs or 
slave-dealers, some of which are very beautiful and of the 
purest white, the weft-yarn being equal to the count of No. 80, 
and the warp to that of No. 120. 

It does not appear, however, that any use was made of the 
cotton of Ethiopia as an article of commerce till about forty 
years ago, when the following remarkable occurrence took 
place : — 

" A Turkish officer named Maho Bey, who had been go- 
vernor of Dongola and Sennar, and who had brought down 
various seeds of Ethiopic plants, which he cultivated in his 
garden at Cairo, about the year 1820 received a friendly visit 
from M. Jumel (a Frenchman well known in New York, where 
he resided some years) ; and in the course of his hospitalities, 
Maho Bey took him round the garden. The attention of Jumel 
was attracted by the appearance of a tree bearing cotton-pods, 
whose growth and produce were equally new to him ; but, with- 
out saying anything which might raise Maho Bey's suspicions 


as to the value of the (liecovery, Jumel gleaned all the iufor- 
mation the Bey possessed on the subject, and procured from 
him some seeds of the same plant. 

" Jumel made his calculations, and presented to the Pasha a 
project for increasing his revenues, for which he asked 20,000 
dollars. The Pasha consented, if the scheme should succeed. 
But, after many delays, Jumel was compelled to seek less bril- 
liant but more solid residts. Associating himself with a Cairo 
merchant, they took a small lot of ground at the village of 
Matereeyeh, near the Obelisk of Heliopolis, and commenced a 
small plantation. The produce in 1820 was three bales, which 
were shipped to Trieste [or, according to another account, to 
Marseilles] ; and the advices were highly satisfactory. New 
arrangements were made. Jumel took the direction of the 
cotton-plantations, which at this time Avere established on the 
Pasha's account throughout Lower Egypt ; and, buoyed up 
with magnificent illusions of personal benefit, he brought large 
territories into cultivation, continuing for three years these 

" The time came, however, when, having hrought to the Pasha 
a mighty increase of revenue, and having thereby mainly contri- 
buted to his subsequent aggrandizement, Jumel sought to realize 
his long-cherished hopes ; but, partaking of the lot of most of 
those Europeans who have served Mohammed Ali with fidelity, 
he was flattered, harassed, and deluded, till, in 1824, he died 
insolvent, or little better 

"The year 1822 produced about 30,000 cantars of the 
' Jumel ' cotton, the staple of which was remarkably fine, but 
more unequal and less clean than that of the ensuing years. 
Eude presses were constructed for packing the cotton at the 
villages ; but as the machinery was defective, some of the 
Alexandrian merchants brought hydraulic presses, with which 
they caused the bales to be pressed again aboard the respective 

* Gliddon's ' Memoir on the Cotton of Egypt,' pp. ll-lo. 


After this, the cultivatiou of Ethiopian cotton increased so 
rapidly in Egypt, that in the year 1824 the quantity exported, 
being the growth of the preceding year (1823), amounted to 
148,276 bales of 219 lbs. each, or ujowards of thirty-two mil- 
lions of pounds ; which, at the government price of that year 
(S15^ per cantar), represented no less a sum than £848,479 
sterling ! And this was the produce of an exotic plant, of 
which a stranger had accidentally seen a specimen growing iu 
a garden at Cairo only three years previously ! 

The rapid increase in the growth of cotton in America has 
been frequently made the subject of remark. But what was it 
compared with that of the " Jumel " cotton ? In America, 
1200 lbs. were first produced in the year 1784. In 1802, the 
yield only amounted to twenty-seven millions of pounds. That 
is to say, the American cotton-trade had not in eighteen years 
increased so much as that of Ethiopian cotton in Egypt in 
only three years. Had the latter trade gone on increasing in 
the ratio in which it began, it would ere long have equalled 
that in American cotton at the present day. But, like most 
branches of industry under Mohammed Ali Pasha, it soon 
retrograded ; though, from a report made by Mr. G. E. Hay- 
wood, Secretary of the Cotton Supply Association, when in 
Egypt on his way to India, which appeared in ' The Times ' of 
August 16th last, the export of Egyptian cotton, which in 
1856-1857 was only 91,572 bales, has in the season of 1860- 
1861 increased to 142,759 bales, or nearly equal to what it was 
in 1824. 

There can be no doubt that, by improved cultivation and by 
affording facilities to the growers, the production of cotton in 
Lower Egypt might be largely extended. But the present 
Viceroy expressed to INIr. Haywood his fears that " he would 
not have it in his power to do much directly to induce an ex- 
tensive cultivation " of that article, adding significantly that 
" when the fellah or cultivator found cotton to pay him better 
than any other crop, he was now ready from self-interest to 


grow as mucli as possible ; " which implied also that, as loug as 
other crops paid better than cotton, they were not likely to 
be abandoned merely for the sake of supplying our manufac- 

In Egypt, where the cotton-plant is an exotic, its culture 
is entirely artificial, besides having to compete with other' 
articles of produce which are of absolute necessity. In 
Ethiopia above Egypt, on the contrary, where it is indigenous, 
it flourishes even without the need of cultivation, and its 
production, with comparatively little labour or attention, 
might be rendered almost unlimited. The quality, too, is of 
the finest kind; for it is here that Maho Bey obtained the 
seeds from which the " Jumel " cotton was raised in Lower 

Without seeking to ascertain what extent of country within 
or near the dominions of tlie Viceroy of Egypt might be made 
to produce cotton for the European markets, it will be 
sufficient for the purposes of the projected Ethiopian Railway 
to look merely to the productive powers of the country of 
Taka, which has already been repeatedly named, and of the 
neighbouring peninsula or "island" of Meroe or Atbara, 
between the river of that name and the JSTile. 

In modern times Taka was first visited in the year 1814 b}' 
the traveller Burckhardt, wlio gives the following particulars 
respecting it : — " The country of Taka, or, as it is called by its 
inhabitants, El Crash, is famous all over these countries for its 
extreme fertility. The reason why Taka is so fertile and has 
become so populous is, its regular inundation. About the 
latter end of June, or sometimes not till July — for the period 
does not seem so fixed as that of the rise of the Nile — large 
torrents coming from the S. and S.E. pour over the country, 
and in the space of a few weeks (or according to some in eight 
days) cover the whole surface with a sheet of water, varying 
in depth from 2 to 3 feet ; these torrents are said to lose 
themselves in the eastern plain, after inundating the country ; 


but the waters remain upwards of a montli in Taka, and, 
if I am to believe the reports of several persons who had 
seen the Nile and could draw a comparison, the waters on 
subsiding leave a thick slime or mud upon the surface, similar 
to that left by the Nile" *. 

A more recent traveller, M. Werne, speaks in the following 
terms of the great fertility of Taka, and the nature of the 
principal articles which it produces : — " The cotton-plantations 
about the camp at Aronga [near Kassela-el-Lus] are of con- 
siderable extent, and, notwithstanding the present drought, 
look healthy and of a fresh green, with which there is nothing 
to compare. Still, for so large a nation as the Haddendas, 
tliese plantations are but trifling, when compared with the 

great extent of the durraf fields But what might not 

be cultivated in, and produced by, this splendid country, 
which — through the moisture caused by brooks springing out 
of the earth, and through its regular yearly irrigation by rain, 
and by the inundation of the streams which descend from the 
Abyssinian mountains — is so exceedingly fertile that, in spite 
of violent storms and the frequent catching fire of the woods, 
it brings forth in an instant (as it were) trees of considerable 
size, durra — without manure or cultivation — 15 and 20 feet in 
height, with full ears sixteen and eighteen fold, and Cotton 
which (/rows ^i feet in a single year ! And yet, what does this 
country produce at present ? Nothing but this durra and 

cotton, and a few small beans ! But all kinds of grain 

would doubtless flourish here, so that this country might 
become the granary of Hedjaz, which province is entirely 
destitute of corn, and is only saved from famine by the 
gratuitous supply of the entire yearly crops of the neighbour- 
hood of Kenneh, or, when these are insufficient, of those of 
the districts of Siut and Manfalliit in Egypt, Indigo, too, 
might be grown here quite as well as in Egypt, where its 

* * Travels in Nubia,' pp. 348-.')49. 

t Durra, Down, a .species of Sortjlann. 


cultivation is considerable; so also rice and sugar, wliicli 
latter article, on account of the quantity of wood that grow« 
here, might easily be refined, whereas, at present, it has to be 
brought from India; likewise tobacco, oil, flax, &c. The 
cultivation of the date-palm might also be made a matter of 

great importance At present almost the only dealings 

are in honey, butter, and durra, which articles are exchanged 
for salt with the people living near the Red Sea; but the 
trade might be extended to a great many other articles. The 
herds of cattle, which even now are numerous, and might witli 
a little attention be very much increased, as their keep is so 
easy, would furnish hides for sale without number ; whilst, by 
improving the breed of the sheep, no small profit might be 
derived from their wool, thoixgh at present their flesh alone is 
made use of But, above all, Cotton tcool might he ren- 
dered a most important article of commerce, tJwugli its present 
insignificant cultivation does not even suffice for the home con- 
sumption. When it is seen how plentifully and how leautifullg 
this plant grows, even with the present careless cultivation, it 
is easy to imagine lohat immense quantities might he produced if 
more attention were paid to it. Here there is no need, as in 
Egypt, to provide for its regular irrigation — in itself an immense 
labour ; in addition to tvliich, the greater part of the inhabitants 
know something at least of its treatment, which is an incalculable 
advantage for a people who are so wedded to their primitive 
customs, habits, and occupations'^*. 

As regards the country beyond Taka to the west, it is 
described by a recent traveller, Mr. Hamilton, in equally 
favourable terms : — " The Island of Meroe presents a uniform 
character ; its surface is formed by an immensel}' thick layer 
of alluvial soil, which only requires irrigation in order to yield 
larger crops of every valuable production of a warm climate 
than the whole of Egypt can supply. The two rivers seem 
intended to feed a network of canals, which would transform 
* '■ Feldzug nacli Semiaar/ kc, pp. 00-102. 


the desert into a paradise ; bi;t for such an end capital, 
industry, and intelligence are all wanted. Cotton, sugar, 
wheat, and indigo may all be successfully cultivated here, 
especially the first and last, which grow wild. The regularity 
of the climate seems to promise a certainty of unfailing crops 
of these articles, and to render this the most favourable 
country in the world for their production"*. 

In another place Mr. Hamilton says : — " Throughout this 
country I have found the natives, though very timid, good- 
natured and obliging when caught ; but to catch them is not 
easy. They are certainly a very superior race to the Egyptain 
fellah, — superior in communicative intelligence, and untainted 
Avith his shameless rapacity. I do not remember to have been 
asked for a hacJcshish in the whole of Soudan ; and what was 
given was always received with frank thanks, as if welcome but 
not due. A more humane government is all that is wanting to 
raise this country to a state of great prosperity. The Atlara 
is full of islands, offering thousands of acres of the richest land 
to cultivation almost without lahour ; and a netioorh of canals in- 
tersecting the Island of JSIeroe, the triangle formed hg the Atbara, 
the Raliad, and the Nile, looiild more than double the productive 
soil of EgypV-X. 

If, then, the late Mohammed Ali Pasha, within the short 
period of three years, was able to create (even though by un- 
justifiable means) a yearly revenue of nearly a million sterling 
from the growth in Lower Egypt of "Ethiopian" Cotton, it 
cannot be doubted that the present Viceroy, Said Pasha, might 
derive a much larger income from these southern provinces, 
were the cultivation of their indigenous Cotton and that of the 
other productions of their fertile soil properly fostered, and 
the transport of the produce itself to the sea-coast facilitated 
by means of a road such as is proposed. 

The formation of this line of transport would have another 

* ' Sinai, the Hedjaz aud Soudan/ p. 369. t I^id p. 280. 


most important and beneficial result. It would soon become 

the channel for the commerce of Sennar and the surrounding 

countries, and would eventually bring into connexion Avith the 

sea-coast the most extensive, most fertile, and most populous 

regions of Intertropical Africa. 

The distance of Khartum, on the Nile, from the shores of 

the Eed Sea, is little more than 400 miles, through a fertile 

and weU-watered country ; whereas from Egypt it is double the 

distance, by a desert and difficult road. Khartum itself is on 

the high road to Central Africa ; and it is a fact pregnant with 

inferences, that the greatest movement of the population of 

Africa is from east to west and from west to east — pilgrims 

from the remotest regions of Western and North-western 

Africa traversing the entire breadth of the continent on their 

way to and from the Caaba and the tomb of their prophet and 

lawgiver. This is, indeed, the road which has unalterably been 

trodden during countless ages ; for it existed long before the 

time of Mohammed. The pilgrims who frequent Mecca are 

almost of necessity merchants, trading from place to place, 

often as the sole means of enabling them to perform their 

journey. It is by this means that the Mohammedan religion 

has attained its great development throughout Central Africa — 

not by any zealous and expensive, or, indeed intentional, propa- 

gandism, but by the casual communication between these 

Moslem merchant pilgrims and the rude pagans through 

whose countries their route happens to pass ; and it is by the 

same simple means that our manufactures, and with them 

eventually our civilization and our religion, will find their 

way into the heart of Africa. 

Charles Beke. 
Bekesbourne House, Kent, 

1st October, 1861. 



Letter from Consul Cameron to the Emperor of 

[Referred to in pag-e 71.] 

Godjam, Abyssinia, 
Mat it please tour Majesty, October 22, 1862. 

I have bad the honour to receive your Majesty's 

message of this moruing, informing me that I had better 

leave at once for Massowah, in order to ascertain, for your 

Majesty's information, whether I would be able or not to pass 

certain Ambassadors or messengers, whom yoa are anxious to 

send to England. 

On this point I believe myself justified in repeating the 
reply I made to your Majesty on the same subject in my last 
interview, viz., that if Egypt was at war with your Majesty, it 
would be impossible to pass such Ambassadors or messengers 
through without her consent ; if, on the contrary, there was 
peace, that I could conceive no possible obstacle. 

I wiR, however, send a messenger immediately to Aden, 
informing the Resident there of your intention, and request- 
ing him to send you an answer direct in Arabic, without 
reference to me. 

Your Majesty ought, however, now to inform me of the 
number of people of which your Majesty's Embassy, if 
it goes, will consist, the exact date at which it will be at 
Massowah, or, if you wish, Halai, and the character of the 
presents they are to take, — as, if there are any horses intended 
to be sent (as I hear), it will be necessary for me to write this 
beforehand, so as to insure accommodation, if indeed it is 
possible to afford accommodation, on board a steamer. 

It might be desirable, too, to speak with me as to the objects 
of the Embassy, supposing them to be more than what you 
told me loosely the other day, viz. to appeal to England with 
regard to certain differences between yourself and Turkey, as 


also Egypt. We might then consult on those differences, 
before your taking so serious a step as to bring theiu before 
an European Power. 

My being an European, and one versed in some degree in 
public affairs as conducted among us, may perhaps assist you. 

Besides which, I may remind your Majesty that my appoint- 
ment has obhged me to think much over everything connected 
with Abyssinia. 

If your Majesty wishes much business to be done by talk- 
ing, it would be fitting to choose such a person as the head of 
the Embassy as may be thoroughly versed in the matters to 
be spoken about, and one who would give a favourable opinion 
of the intelligence and civilization of your people, as well as of 
your Majesty's character, both of which have been greatly mis- 
represented by your Majesty's enemies. 

The accompanying retinue also ought to be the smallest 
possible, a sufficient retinue being always to be obtained in 
England. I would say that one or at most two heads of the 
Em.bassy, and an interj^reter, with a Secretary if necessary, 
would be amply sufficient, each with a single native servant. 

Having given your Majesty my opinion with regard to an 
Embassy, as far as I can do so in writing, there is only one 
point further to discuss with your Majesty, viz., whether your 
Majesty wishes to avail yourself of my being here to make out 
a draft of a treaty for the consideration of my Queen ; which, 
if your Majesty thinks proper, can be signed conditionally, 
and notice of it now sent on by me, while the draft itself, with 
the provisional signatures, can accompany your Ambassador. 

I have a copy of the treaty made through Eas Ali with the 
former Emperor, which can be made the base of such a docu- 
ment, if your Majesty wishes ; and I now send it you, with 
certain alterations, for your Majesty's consideration. 

As I am anxious to finish whatever I have to say to your 
Majesty in this letter, as far as I can do so in writing, I may 
observe at once that I know that the points on which your 

Y 2 


Majesty made a difficulty in your conversation witli Mr. Plow- 
den on this subject were : — 

1. The acceptance of a Consul. 

2. If he were accepted, whether he should have jurisdiction 
as agreed in the former Emperor's treaty. 

On the first point, I can only ask your Majesty whether 
Mr. Plowden's stay liere was not a positive advantage, in so 
far as he acted as a mediator and friend generally, but parti- 
cularly as a protector to the unfortunate Abyssinian tribes laid 
open to Egypt, while those who ought to have looked after 
them were cutting each other's throats ; whether be did not 
testify bis anxiety by word and deed tbat your Majesty, as 
the most noble and enlightened of Abyssinian Chiefs, should 
become sole master ; lastly, whether he ever showed a disposi- 
tion to do anything contrary to the interest, honour, or inde- 
pendence of Abyssinia. 

Some arrangement at any rate on this point will be 
necessary, if your Majesty really wishes to keep up a close 
friendship with England. I feel certain, too, that if Englisli 
artisans were to come here, as I have heard is your Majesty's 
wish, it would he impossible for them to stay unless there ivas 
an officer of some kind, either Envoy or Consul, to look after 

It would be well if, now that there is an opportunity, your 
Majesty gave a frank decision on this subject, particularly as 
your Majesty has now had many years to think it over. 

As regards a Consul's flying a flag, this is by no means 
necessary ; nor would my Grovernment even wisb it, if, as I 
bear, your people might misunderstand it. 

In regard to jurisdiction by a Consul, this is in your 
Majesty's bands, not ours, to decide. England wants to 
ensure justice and good treatment to her subjects, and nothing 

If your Majesty can explain to our Government Avhat I 
believe to be your Majesty's opinion, viz. that such separate 


jurisdiction would be impossible to carry out, and is also un- 
necessary where the laws are so mild as in Abyssinia*, this 
would be sufficient for the present. 

But it seems to me that a few hours' conversation would 
settle these matters either one way or the other. 

As your Majesty is now by Grod's grace master of Shoa, I 
would gladly know whether your Majesty has any intention of 
opening a trade through Zeyla in opposition to Massowah. 
In the meantime, I can only point it out to your Majesty as 
worthy of attention. 

If I could have some assurance with regard to the stopping 
of the Slave Trade in this country, which has again been 
opened (I believe) without your Majesty's knowledge, I feel 
certain that satisfactory information on that point would 
be received with much pleasure by my Government. 

A clause in the treaty on this subject would be still better. 

I can only thank your Majesty now for the courteous 
manner in which your Majesty has received the presents I 
brought, of which, as well as of the distinguished manner in 
which I have hitherto been treated, I shall write immediately 
to England. 

It is my duty, however, to add that, if your Majesty wishes 
me to stay until I have finished everything thoroughly, I can 
dismiss my people if they are too many for a camp, and stay 
till you have quite done with me. 

I owe it to my Government to tell you this. 

I am now about to write to the Pasha of Massowah, telling 
him that if he commits any aggression on those under your 
Majesty's rule from where he is on the coast, I feel certain 
that his conduct will be greatly disapproved of by my Govern- 

Iioill also write to my Government, mentioning your Majesty s 
wise resolution not to give either Egypt or Turkey any ground 

* [It must always be borne in mind that the Roman ' ('ivil Law ' 
is the law of Abyssinia. — C. B.] 


for attack, which I feel sure icill do much to confirm its opinion 
of your Ifajestfs prudence as well as courage. 

Tour Majesty has many enemies besides the Turks and 
Egyptians, who will rejoice in putting your Majesty in the 
wrong, and who will rejoice especially if your Majesty gives 
them an opportunity of doing so. 

I have the honour, &c. 


Four Letters from Dr. Beke to Earl Russell, K.G., 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated respectively 
May I9th, and July 7th, 2lst, and 22nd, 1865. 

[Keferred to in pages 18 and 161.] 

My Lord, May 19th, 1865. 

In the letter which I had the honour to address to 
your Lordship on the 29th ultimo, I took the liberty of sug- 
gesting that if the existing difficulties in the way of obtaining 
the liberation of the British captives in Abyssinia could not 
be directly met, they might, at all events, be turned ; and at 
the interview with which I was favoured by your Lordship on 
the 8th instant, I briefly stated the course which, in my 
hiimble opinion, ought to be adopted. 

Tour Lordship seemed, however, disposed to leave the busi- 
ness still in the hands of Mr. Eassam. 

Should all the endeavours of that gentleman prove un- 
availing, the time will at length arrive when, unless it be 
determined to abandon the captives to their fate. Her Ma- 
jesty's Government must decide on adopting some other 

It would scarcely be consistent with the dignity of the 


Britisli nation that a Mission on a larger and more magnificent 
scale than that of Mr. Eassam's should now replace it ; for, as 
your Lordship argued in the House of Lords, when replying 
to Lord Chelmsford's inquiry, " The obvious inference would 
be, that the way to obtain consideration and respect from this 
country would be to imprison one of our Consuls." 

On the other hand, it is not to be expected the British 
Grovernment will go to war with the Emperor of Abyssinia 
for the purpose of compelling him to set the captives free. 

It would therefore really appear that there remains no 
practical method of surmounting the difficulty except by 
adopting a totally different line of conduct towards the 
refractory Monarch ; and, with your Lordship's permission, I 
would now presume to state in detail the course which, in my 
humble judgment, it would be advisable to pursue in order to 
render him amenable to reason without, at the same time, com- 
promising the British Grovernment or afiectiug the dignity of 
the British nation. 

It is now well understood that the Emperor Theodore's ill- 
treatment of Her Majesty's Consul and the other European 
prisoners has been mainly caused by the altered policy of the 
British Government with respect to the relations between 
Egypt and Abyssinia, and that the Abyssinian Monarch hopes 
to induce Her Majesty's Government to retrace their steps 
and to continue to afford him material aid against his enemies 
as was virtually done while Mr. Consul Plowden was alive, 
that officer having been an active partisan of the Emperor, and 
having lost his life while bearing arms in his cause. 

Circumstanced as England is with Egypt, it is impossible for 
the British Government to hold out to the Emperor Theodore 
the hope of his receiving the further countenance of this 
country in his disputes with Egypt, or of his obtaining mate- 
rial aid in any other respect, although the transmission to 
Massowah of 500 stand of arms as a ransom for Her Majesty's 
Consul might, by some persons, and even by the Egyptian 


Government, be looked on as doing covertly what would be 
repudiated openly. 

Nevertheless it would not be difficult, I believe, to make 
the Abyssinian Monarch understand that by the policy now 
proposed to be pursued towards him by the British Govern- 
ment, and recommended for his adoption, he might eventually 
attain the object he has so much at heart, inasmuch as by the 
cultivation of the arts of peace he would so aggrandize himself 
as to be able to cope effectually with his powerful neighbour, — 
leaving it, however, to the progress of events to guide his 
judgment as to whether the continuance of peace would not be 
more conducive to the permanent prosperity of himself, his 
dynasty, and his people, than a war which might result in the 
ruin and destruction of them all. 

In the first place, then, I would represent to the Emperor 
Theodore that the immense increase of power and influence 
among European nations acquired by Egypt during the last 
few years had chiefly arisen from the extension given to the 
cultivation of cotton within the territories of the Viceroy ; and 
I would represent to His Majesty that the plant which has 
thus suddenly caused the wealth of Egypt was introduced into 
that country from Upper Ethiopia only forty years ago, and 
that within his own dominions there are tracts of land more 
extensive than the whole of the cotton-grounds of Egypt, and 
far more fitted than the latter for the growth of the cotton 
plant, not only as being its native country, but also as lying 
within the limits of the tropical rains, and thus rendering 
unnecessary the great trouble and expense of artificial irriga- 
tion. And I would hope to have it in my power to convince 
the Sovereign of Abyssinia tliat if he desires to equal, or even 
to surpass, the Viceroy of Egypt in power, he miist first seek to 
augment the material wealth and prosperity of his country and 
its inhabitants, by means similar to those so successfully 
adopted by the latter Potentate. 

I would further represent to the Emperor of Abyssinia that 


he possesses within hia country other sources of wealth far 
greater than any enjoyed by the Euler of Egypt, such, in fact, 
as have so largely contributed to make England what she is. 
These are iron and coal. 

The former article is well known to exist in unlimited quan- 
tities tlxroughout the whole of Abyssinia, and in so pure a 
state as to require little more than " rolliug out," it being 
used by the native smiths in the manufacture of weapons of 
war and of agricultural and domestic implements. 

The existence of coal in various parts of Abyssinia has long 
been asserted by travellers in that country — by myself as far 
back as 1840, when I reported on the subject to Captain 
Haines, then Political Agent at Aden ; but it is only within 
the last few years that this has been establislied as a fact. In 
communications more recently made by me to the Board of 
Trade, and thence referred to your Lordship's Department, it 
is shown that coal of good quality exists within the district of 
Galeila, at a short distance from the entrance to the Red Sea ; 
and there is reason for believing that it was the knowledge of 
the existence of this coal so near to the sea-shore that induced 
the French Government in 18G2 to acquire possession of 
Obokh, on the Abyssinian coast, just outside the Straits of 

But without taking into consideration this coal-field of 
Galeila, or others which are said to stretch along the line of 
coast northwards nearly to Massowah, and also south of the 
Bay of Tadjurrah, below the eastern flank of the high tableland 
of Shoa — all of which, though in common parlance said to be 
situate in Abyssinia, can hardly be regarded as lying within 
dominions of the Emperor Theodore — there is one extensive 
field which not only is situate in the heart of those dominions, 
but has been worked by the Emperor himself during several 
years past. 

This coal-field lies at a distance of about fifty miles from 
Gondar, tlio capital of Abyssinia, and has been described by 


several Europeans who have visited it. Eor a length of about 
three miles along the right bank of the River Gwang (the 
upper course of the Atbara), six seams of coal crop out, each 
having a uniform thickness of from 10 to 15 feet, the quality of 
the coal being very good, and fit for ordinary steam and other 
purposes, though, from its rapid combustion, it might not be 
suited for steam -vessels going long sea-voyages. Nor, w^ere 
the quality fit, could it, like the Galeila coal, be rendered 
available for steamers in the Indian seas, as it lies at a dis- 
tance of at least 200 miles from the sea-shore. 

At present the only use made of this coal appears to be in 
the Imperial founderies, in vs^hich the European artisan 
missionaries and others are employed iu casting mortars and 
shells, and in constructing other implements of war. But it 
may well be conceived what a mine of wealth is here present, 
if the Emperor and his people could be brought to appreciate 
it at its true value, and to apply it to useful purposes. 

As by means of the cultivation of cotton in Abyssinia the 
Emperor Theodore might be shown how he could cope with 
Egypt, so by the proper application of the produce of his iron 
and coal mines, he might be led to the hope of being eventually 
able to rival even England herself. And if once brought to 
entertain such ideas, and wliilst awaiting their realization, he 
might without difficulty be induced to see how he could lay 
both nations under obligation, and in a manner make them de- 
pendent on his favour, by permitting a line of electric telegraph 
to be carried across his dominions. 

The Viceroy of Egypt is engaged in constructing a telegraph 
line from Cairo up the valley of the Nile as far as Khartum, 
the capital of the province of Sennar, with a branch to Kas- 
selah, the capital of the province of Taka ; by means of which 
not only will those remote possessions in the south be placed 
in immediate connexion with the seat of Government, but, from 
tlie fact that this line is a prolongation of tliat already existing 
between Egypt and Europe, it will result that about three- 


fifths of a telcgi'apliic communication between England and 
India (London and Ivurracliee), by way of the Red Sea, will 
thereby be established. 

Before this plan of the Viceroy of Egypt was known, I liad 
suggested to Her Majesty's Government, in a ' Memoran- 
dum on the means of developing British commerce within the 
Red Sea, and of securing the communication between England 
and India,' dated November 12th, 1862, and submitted to your 
Lordship on the 27th of the same month, that the wires of the 
Eed Sea telegraph line from India should be continued from 
the Straits of Babelmandeb, northward along the Abyssinian 
coast as far as Suwakin, and thence carried inland to Berber on 
the Nile, and so up the bank of that river to Cairo — thus 
forming a land-line the whole way from Babelmandeb to 
Alexandria, entirely over Turkish and Egyptian territory. 

But taking into consideration the great stride which the 
Viceroy of Egypt is making in the desired direction — bearing 
also in mind the advance which during the last few years the 
Emperor Theodore has made towards the east and south-east 
by the conquest and annexation of the territories of the King 
of Shoa and the Chiefs of the WoUo Gallas — and having regard 
likewise to the hold which the Government of India, through 
Aden, is gaining on the Abyssinian coast, in consequence of 
the acquisition recently made by a British subject of the 
Galeila coal-field, as also of the settlement of the French at 
Obokh, I am now decidedly of opinion that the telegraphic 
communication between England and India, through Egypt 
and Aden, should and might easily be efiected by continuing 
the Egyptian line from Khartum across Abyssinia to the sea- 
coast, in the immediate vicinity of the Island of Perim, and 
thence to Aden. 

On the accompanying map I have marked the proposed line 
of telegraph ; and in explanation of the same I would beg leave 
to state that the entire distance between Khartum and Aden 


is (in round numbers) 850 geographical miles, wbicli distance 
may be divided into four portions. 

Of the first of these, being from Khartum to Kalabat, on the 
western frontier of Abyssinia, the length is 250 miles ; the 
next, from Kalabat to Dowe, the great market-place on the 
eastern edge of the Abyssinian tableland, has a length of 300 
miles ; the third, from Dowe, across the country of the Dankali 
ti'ibes, to the shore of the Red Sea opposite Perim, is 200 miles ; 
whilst the last portion, from Perim to Aden, is 100 miles. 

The condition of these several portions of the line is very 
different. The first, between Khartum and Kalabat, and the 
last, between Perim and Aden, forming together 350 miles, or 
about tvro-fifths of the whole length, would be respectively 
Egyptian and British ; no further remarks, therefore, are re- 
quisite as regards them. Of the remaining 500 miles, the third 
portion, between the sea-coast and the eastern edge of the 
Abyssinian tableland, being 200 miles in length, may be re- 
garded as being so far under the influence, if not the absolute 
control, of the British Grovernor of Aden on the one hand, 
and of the Emperor of Abyssinia on the other, that between 
tlie two, the road might be kept open as securely as it is among 
the tribes occupying the regions through which passes the 
Euphrates Valley Telegraph line to India. 

As regards the second portion, of 300 miles, across Abyssinia 
itself, the road is already marked out by Nature and by the 
experience of the natives. It runs from Kalabat, by AVekhni, 
Grondar, and Debra Tabor, and thence, over the warter-parting 
between the rivers Takkazie and Bashilo, to Magdala, the im- 
pregnable fortress, arsenal, and State prison, in the district of 
"Warra Ilemano, in which Captain Cameron and his com- 
panions are confined, from whence it continues to Dowe, in the 
adjoining district of "Warrakallu. 

It may here be remarked, parenthetically, that it would be 
in vain to look for Magdala in the ordinary maps of Abys- 


sinia ; and that in those few in which it is marked, it is al- 
together misplaced. 

Availing themselves of the natural facilities of this road 
across Abyssinia, the native merchants have from time imme- 
morial made use of it, in a greater or less degree, according to 
political circumstances, as the direct channel of communication 
between the sea-coast and the interior. In the ' Memoir on 
the Commerce of Abyssinia,' which I had the honour to sub- 
mit to your Lordship's predecessor in office on the 9th of 
December, 1843, I dwelt particularly on this fact, and I 
pointed out the advantages that would result from the re- 
opening of this great commercial road, expressing the opinion 
that, whenever the political condition of Abyssinia should be- 
come more settled, we should doubtless see this road resume 
its pristine importance, and the commerce from the coast to 
the interior in great part pass by this channel. 

Such, then, are the arguments that I would propose to em- 
ploy when approaching the Emperor Theodore. I would sup- 
port these arguments by presenting to him some cotton-gins, 
together with specimens of articles of British manufacture of 
various descriptions capable of being made from the cotton of 
Abyssinia if only he would stimulate the production of that 
article by his subjects. 

I would further submit to the Emperor's inspection speci- 
mens of the infinite variety of articles that might be manu- 
factured from the fine iron which his territories contain in sucb 

Lastly, I would take with me an electric-telegraph appa- 
ratus, for the purpose of exhibiting and explaining to His Ma- 
jesty the use and operation of this wonderful and, as to him it 
would appear, miraculous invention. And in order to make 
him more readily and fully appreciate the channel by which I 
should propose to connect Abyssinia with England and the other 
nations of Europe, I would not enter his country at all by the 
way of Massowah, but would adopt the road laid down on my 


map as that of the proposed telegraph Hne, thus proving to 
him that the acquisition of Massowah is no longer indispen- 
sable as the channel of communication between Abyssinia and 
the civilized world. 

I take for granted that it would be but proper to assure the 
Emperor Theodore that Her Britannic Majesty's Government 
would exert every suitable influence over the Viceroy of Egypt 
to induce him to desist from further aggressions on the terri- 
tories or dependencies of Abyssinia, and that the mediation of 
Her Majesty would even be oifered, with a view to the settle- 
ment of existing questions between Egypt and Abyssinia, and 
the determination of an equitable frontier line between the two 

On the liberation of the British Consul and the other cap- 
tives, it might (should Her Majesty's Government so decide) 
be promised to the Emperor Theodore that a suitable Embassy 
should be forthwith dispatched to his Court, and that Her 
Majesty would, on Her side, be willing to receive an Envoy 
from His Majesty of Abyssinia, in accordance with the stipula- 
tions of the Treaty of November 2, 1849. 

Such being the line of conduct which I should propose to 
adopt, I once more beg leave most respectfully to tender my 
humble services to Her Majesty's Government. 

To obviate the objection that might be made that I am not 
of sufficiently elevated rank to be entrusted with such a Mis- 
sion, and that I do not occupy any official position, I would 
take the liberty of reminding your Lordship that the late 
Eichard Cobden, though holding no official post, was not 
thereby disqualified from acting as mediator between the two 
most powerful nations in the world ; and as regards myself, 
without thinking for a moment of comparing myself mth 
that distinguished individual, I may be permitted to state 
that I have already had the honour to serve the Crown as 
Acting Consul at Leipzig. 

And as, furtlier, it appears that so much importance is 


attached to the wearing of a British uniform that a young 
subaltern officer, Lieutenant Prideaux, has been sent from 
Aden to Massowah to join Mr. Eassam, I trust it will not be 
regarded as presumptuous if I represent to your Lordship 
that I have for many years held the Commission, and am con- 
sequently entitled to wear the uniform, of a Deputy-Licutenant, 
Avhich (if I mistake not) gives me rank equivalent to that of a 
Lieut. -Colonel in the army. 

I have, &c. 

Mt Lord, July 7th, 18G5. 

On several occasions I have ventured to express to your 
Lordship my readiness to be the medium of communication 
with the Emperor of Abyssinia, with a view to the liberation 
of Consul Cameron and his companions in captivity; but it 
would appear that Her Majesty's Government shrink from the 
responsibility of availing themselves of my services, lest I also 
should be made a prisoner or even put to death by the irri- 
tated Monarch. 

Such being the case, I see no means of relieving Her 
Majesty's Government from their difficvdty, except by my 
undertaking the task of approaching the Abyssinian Sovereign 
on my own personal responsibility. This I now beg leave to 
state unreservedly I am prepared to do ; and further, I am 
content to visit the Abyssinian Court in the character of a 
private traveller not officially accredited, should such a course 
be deemed expedient. 

Possessing, as I do, an acquaintance with all the circum- 
stances and bearings of the case, I have not the slightest doubt 
of being able to bring His Abyssinian Majesty to see that, in 
imprisoning Consul Cameron, the British missionaries, and 
other Eixropeans, he has made a great mistake, and that, in 
order to put himself right with the British nation and with the 
whole Christian world, he must immediately set them free. 


I have likewise no doubt of being able to convince His 
Majesty that the only effectual way to secure the integrity 
and stability of his empire, to preserve Christianity among his 
people, and to gain the friendship of England and all other 
European nations, is to cultivate the arts of peace in prefer- 
ence to those of war, and to develope the immense resources of 
his rich and fertile country, — showing him how he might most 
readily do this by the means pointed out in my letter to your 
Lordship of May lOth last, which is printed among the Papers 
laid before Parliament *. 

Should my undertaking be crowned with success (with re- 
spect to which I do not entertain any apprehension), I should 
have had the gratification, not only of liberating the unfortu- 
nate captives, some of whom are my own personal friends, from 
their long imprisonment, but also of freeing Her Majesty's 
Grovernment from a great embarrassment and the British 
nation from an equally great disgrace. 

In the possible but most improbable alternative of failure, I 
should have no one to blame but myself; whilst Her Majesty's 
Government would truly be enabled to say that no means 
whatever had been neglected of bringing about a result which 
every friend of humanity must have so much at heart. 

I have, &c. 

My Loed, July 21st, 1865. 

With reference to the letter which I had the honour to 
address to your Lordship on the 7th inst., expressing my 
readiness to go to Abyssinia on my own responsibility, with a 
view to the liberation of Her Majesty's Consul, Captain 
Cameron, and his companions in captivity in that country, I 
now beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Layard's 

[* Pari. Paper, 1865, ' Papers relating to the Imprisonment of 
British subject? in Abyssinia,' p. 11.] 

DR. T?1:KE to earl RUSSELL, JULY 21 ST, 18G5. 327 

letter of the IStli inst., in reply to the same ; in wliii-li ]ic 
states, by your Lordship's desire, that, if I proceed to Abyssinia 
as a private traveller, Her Majesty's Government cannot 
interfere in the matter, hut that your Lordship loarns me 
that Her ^lajesty's Government are in possession of informa- 
tion derived from private sources, describing the cruel and 
merciless character of King Tlieodore, which would almost lead 
to the conclusion that he is not in his right mind. Mr. Layard 
further informs me that, if I undertake this journey, Her 
Majesty's Government cannot hold themselves responsible 
for anything that may happen to me in Abyssinia, nor 
can they give me any authority whatever to enter into any 
political arrangements with the King on their behalf or to 
interfere in the political affairs of tlie country, — and that what- 
ever I may choose to say to the King will therefore be the 
expression of my own sentiments and views, for which Her 
Majesty's Government will in nowise be responsible. And 
lastly, Mr. Layard represents to me the propriety of my 
making it clearly understood to King Theodore and his agents 
that I proceed to Abyssinia entirely as a private traveller, and 
that in no sense am I to be considered as an organ of Her 
Majesty's Government. 

In taking due note of your Lordship's desires as thus con- 
veyed to me, I would beg leave to represent that so desirous 
am I for my own sake not to be considered as an organ of 
Her Majesty's Government, that I would hope to be excused 
for not even offering to be the bearer of despatches from your 
Lordship to Consul Cameron, on account of the extreme ill 
feeling which unhappily exists between the British Govern- 
ment and the Abyssinian Monarch. Mr. Layard, by your 
Lordship's direction, speaks of "the cruel and merciless cha- 
racter of King Theodore, which would almost lead to the con- 
clusion that he is not in his right mind ;" and, on the other 
hand, I learn from a letter from one of Consul Cameron's 
fellow captives, written at Magdala in April last, only three 



months ago, that that monarch "considers the members of 
Her Britannic Majesty's Groverument " — I trust your Lord- 
ship will forgive me for daring even to repeat the words now 
lying written before me — " the greatest miscreants that ever 

Under such circumstances your Lordship will perceive how 
necessary it is for me to avoid everything that might lead the 
irritated monarcli to believe me to be a messenger (even 
though unrecognized) of Her Majesty's Grovernment. 

I have, &c. 

My Lord, JiUy 22nd, 18G5. 

In the letter which I had the honour to address to 
your Lordsliip on the 21st instant, I have ventured to suggest 
the inexpediency of my being the bearer of any desjiatches to 
Consul Cameron, on account of the extremely bad feeling 
which exists between Her Majesty's Grovernment and the 
reigning Sovereign of Abyssinia, evinced by the offensive 
terms in which they express themselves with regard to each 

Notwithstanding my unwillingness to run the risk of in- 
curring the displeasure of the irritated monarch by acting as 
the medium between Her Britannic Majesty's Government 
and their unfortunate representative in Abyssinia, I would 
still desire not to reject the idea that, should your Lordship 
think fit, some indirect means of communicating with Consul 
Cameron might still be adopted. Only, even in that case, I 
should respectfully request it may be understood that I 
protest against anything being said or done which might in 
the slightest degree be likely to compromise myself or the 
success of my undertaking, and that I must reserve to myself 
the right, at my absolute discretion, to destroy without exami- 
nation any papers whatever that might be committed to the 
charge of myself or anyone accompanying me. 


This allusion to the possibility of my having to destroy 
papers delivered to me, induces me to report to your Lordship 
the fate of a despatch, addressed in 1839 by Viscount Palmer- 
ston, when Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to " His 
Highness, Sahela Dongol, King of Abyssinia," which until 
now has remained unknown to Her Majesty's Government. 

In the year 1837 (if I am correctly informed) Mr. Anthony 
Thomson D'Abbadie*, on the recommendation of the Eoyal 
Geographical Society, obtained from Viscount Palmerston a 
passport as a British subject born in Ireland, with which he 
travelled in Abyssinia ; in visiting which country he professed 
to have scientific objects alone in view, and on more than one 
occasion he emphatically disclaimed, in print, all participation 
in political and religious matters, as he likewise denied the 
imputation of his being a Frenchman. 

In the course of 1838, M. d'Abbadie and his brother 
Arnauld were at Gondar, where they mixed themselves up iu 
the affairs of the country, one of the results of which I would 
beg leave to relate in his own words, copied from the 
* Athenaeum ' of January 27th, 1849. He there says, " I was, 
in 1839, the bearer of two Abyssinian letters, which I delivered 
to Lord Palmerston and Marshal Soult ; and as the application 
was favourably received by both Governments, I was naturally 
intrusted with the appropriate answers. When, subsequently. 
Captain Haines impeded my voyage to Gondar by Tajurrah 
and Shoa, peculiar reasons preventing me then from proceeding 
to Massowah, I gave him, as his receipt shows. Lord Palmer- 
ston's despatch, begging him to forward it ; but seven years 
afterwards it had not yet reached Gondar." 

The foregoing statement is most ingeniously and jesuiticallg 
made, dates and intervening facts being omitted, which when 
added give to the affair a totally different appearance. 

M. d'Abbadie, bearing the two despatches from the French 
and English Ministers to King Sahela Dongol, arrived at 
* [Now better known as Monsieur Antoiue d'Abbadie.] 


Massowah in February 1840. He was there joined by his 
brother, whom he had left at Grondar, and the two together 
proceeded inland on the way to Gondar as far as Mai Tahalo 
in Semyen, at which place they were distant from the capital 
only about seventy-five miles in a direct line. 

At Mai Tahalo, on May 21st, 1840, the brothers separated, 
Arnauld, the younger, continuing on to Grondar and taking 
with him the letter from Marshal Soult to the King ; whilst 
the elder returned to the coast, carrying hacTc tvith him the letter 
he had received for that monarch from Lord Palmerston. 

In the beginning of July 1840 M. d'Abbadie left Massowah 
for Aden, where, some time during the following month of 
August (I know not the precise date, but I have the facts I 
am now about to relate in the handwriting of the late Captain 
Haines, I.N., who was then Political Agent at Aden), he was 
arrested by a native sentry on the heights of Djebel Shumshum, 
taking a plan of the fortifications. On being brought before 
Captain Haines, M. d'Abbadie declared himself to be a 
Frenchman ; on which he was simply reprimanded and dis- 
charged. He did not at the time allude to the fact of his 
being the bearer of Lord Palmerston's despatch, neither had 
Captain Haines any idea of the fact. 

From Aden M. d'Abbadie returned to Cairo, with the 
avowed intention of proceeding to Europe. But having altered 
his plans, he went back to Suez, which place he left for Aden 
on November 1st, on board the Honourable East India Com- 
pany's steamer ' Berenice,' commanded by Captain Lowe, I.N. 

Whilst M. d'Abbadie was at Suez, it was currently reported 
that he was a French spy ; on hearing which Captain Lowe 
refused him a passage in his vessel. But on M. d'Abbadie's 
going on board and producing Lord Palmerston s despatch and 
Mr. Bachhouse' s letter to himself enclosing the same, Captain 
Lowe could not do otherwise than allow him to take his 

On November 10th, 1840, M. d'Abbadie arrived a second 

DR. BEKE TO EARL RUSSELL^ JULV 22nDj 1865. 'S'-il 

time at Aden, whence he endeavoured to cross over to Tadjunah 
with the intention of proceeding to Shoa ; but, not finding the 
means of doing so, and Captain Ilaiues having refused to assist 
him — though he made the same attempt with Lord Pahuer- 
stou's letter which had so well succeeded with Captain Lowe, 
— he, on November 12th, delivered that letter over to Captain 
Haines, it being no longer of any use to him, and took tliat 
officer's receipt for the same, as has, subject to this explana- 
tion, been trul^ stated by him in the 'Athenaeum.' Only 
M. d'Abbadie has not explained why Lord Palmerston's 
letter to the King of Abyssinia was not delivered over to his 
brother, together with that from Marshal Soult, when they 
parted at Mai Tahalo near Grondar, on May 21st, 1810. 

Lord Palmerston's letter, after having (as would appear) 
been retained by Captain Haines for several mouths, was for- 
warded by him to the Eeverend Louis Krapf, at Aukobar in 
Shoa, whom it reached on June 9th, 1841. I happened to be 
then in Shoa, and by Mr. Krapf s desire I wrote on the same 
day to the late Admiral (then Captain) Washington, requesting 
him to explain to Mr. Backhouse that Lord Palmerston's letter 
could not be sent on to Gondar just then, lest King Sahela 
Selasye should be suspicious, Eas Ali being his great rival. 

"When I quitted Shoa for Godjam in October 1841, shortly 
after the arrival of the British mission under Major Harris, I 
certainly did not expect to see again this letter from Lord Pal- 
merston to King Sahela Dongol, which had already thrice crossed 
my path, at Suez, at Aden, and at Ankobar. But, to my 
astonishment, on February 10th, 1843, when I was at Yejubbi, 
in the south of Godjam, an Abyssinian messenger, whom I had 
sent to Shoa, returned with news of the approaching departure 
from that country of the British mission, and bringing me 
Lord Palmerston's letter, which Major Harris had sent to me 
to be forwarded to Eas Ali. 

I was then within the territories of Dedjatj Biru, the liere- 
ditary prince of Godjam, who was a far greater enemy of Eas 


Ali than King Sahela Selasye was, the two princes being at 
that moment at open war ; and the possession of a letter which, 
though addressed to the nominal Sovereign of Abyssinia, was 
in fact intended for Eas Ali, who governed in the King's name, 
might seriously have compromised me with Dedjatj Biru, who 
was of a very arbitrary and merciless character — especially as 
at that time M. Aruauld d'Abbadie had just arrived at his 
court with presents and was in high favour with him, and 
M. Antoine d'Abbadie liimself was shortly expected : in fact, 
on my way home I met him, on March 11th, 1843, at Mahdera 
Mariam, one stage from Debra Tabor, Eas All's capital. 

Independently of this, I was not imder the orders of Major 
Harris, nor was I in any way an agent of the British Grovem- 
ment ; and therefore, as that officer had taken on himself to 
send me this letter for the King without my permission, and it 
was not in my power to return it to him in consequence of his 
having left Shoa, I felt myself quite at liberty to refuse to 
receive it from my messenger. 

The latter, fearing that he too might get into difficulty if he 
retained the letter, committed the unfortimate document to the 
flames, not (I admit) without my privity and entire approval ; 
for I argued in my own mind that the delivery of such a letter 
after so many years, even supposing it to have been practi- 
cable, could hardly do any good, and might possibly be pro- 
ductive of much harm ; whilst its possession by myself or any 
one connected with me, if detected, might have proved most 

In now making these facts known to your Lordship, I would 
lake the liberty of adding that "Mr. Anthony Thomson 
D'Abbadie," to whom, as a Britisli subject. Lord Palmerston's 
letter to " His Highness Sahela Hongol, King of Abyssinia " 
was thus confided, has long since openly avowed himself to be 
"a Frenchman by education, fortune, and choice"*; and that, 

[' See the 'Athenioum ' of .Jaimarv :27tli, 1S40, No. 1109, p. Oy ; 
and February 17th, 1849, No. 1112, pp. 166, 167.] 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, APKIL 18G5. 333 

in spite of Lis repeated disclaimer of all participation in the poli- 
tical and religious affairs of Abyssinia, he has in like manner 
declared in print within the last two years that by his means 
" deux missions chretiennes etaient etablies, I'une dans le 
nord, I'autre dans le sud de la haute Ethiopie ;" so that there 
now remains no room to doubt the substantial correctness of 
the charge which was at the time openly brought against him 
by several well-informed persons, that he was a Jesuit emissary 
of the See of Eome and a secret agent of the Prench Govern- 
ment; and it is most important that Her Britannic Majesty's 
Grovernment should bear in mind that one of the Roman 
Catholic missions, of the establishment of which he takes 
credit to himself, has long been the focus of French intrigue in 
Northern Abyssinia, and from the signs of the times appears 
liJcely to become ere long even more so than lefore. 

I have, &c. 

Extracts from Letters from the Rev. H. A. Stern and 
Mr. Rosenthal, written during their imprisonment at 
Amba Maydala. 

[Referred to in page 107, and repeatedly elsewhere.] 

From Mr. Stei'n. 

April 1865. 

You are aware that in the beginning of April 18G3 

I reached Abyssinia. Our mission, though restricted in its 

operations, was then most prosperous, and despite obstacles I 

cherished the most hallowed anticipations respecting the future. 

In June, Captain Cameron, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, 

arrived a second time at our station at Djenda. The King, 

who had been at some distance, also quite accidentally came 


into our neighbourhood. During his stay in our vicinity, I 
heard several times that he was annoyed that Captain Cameron 
had not brought an answer to his letter to the British Govern- 
ment, and also for having gone round the frontier and formed, 
as was falsely represented, prejudicial intimacies with his 
enemies, the Turks. Against us and our mission I also heard 
unfavourable reports ; and as I knew the priests were opposed 
to us and our work, I communicated my fears to my feUow- 
labourers ; and all agreed not to incur any expense except 
what was indispensably necessary for the support of scliools, 
scripture-readers, and the extensive circulation of the Word of 
God. Not expecting violence or foi-cible detention even under 
the most adverse circumstances, I visited the Falashas of 
various districts ; and at the end of August, accompanied by 
Cornelius, I set out for Armatjoho, a province well inhabited 
by Falashas, who had never seen a missionary or heard the 
tidings of redeeming love. 

About the 20th of September I came back to Djenda, and 
on the evening of' my return a royal order summoned the 
British Consul, all the missionary agents, and myself to 
Goudar, to hear the reading of the letter which M. Bardel had 
brought from the Emperor of the French. All obeyed the 
behest, and on the morning of the 2nd of October (I think the 
dates may not be quite correct) the despatch was publicly 
read, and the fictitious interview between M. Bardel and 
Napoleon III. narrated before the small European colony. 
The King was exceedingly dissatisfied with the letter and the 
reception of his messenger, and I know that M. Lejean, the 
French Consul, might still have kept us company, had not 
Abuna Salama arrested the King's violence, and gained him 
permission to leave. M. Lejean and M. Legard, a French 
pliysician, were peremptorily required to quit Abyssinia, and 
tlie rest returned to their respective homes. 

The crisis, whicli for some time had been looming in the 
distance, was now drawing nearer and nearer. All felt that 


there was something impending; but even the moat timid 
dreaded nothing beyond the seizure of property and expulsion 
from the country. My own work being finished, I purchased 
the requisite number of animals, and started for the coast. 
On my way I had to repass Gondar, where the King was still 
with his army. The Metropolitan with wonted kindness 
invited me to his residence, an offer which I gratefully 
accepted. I reached Gondar on Tluirsday, and on Saturday 
I intended to pay my salaam to His Majesty. Unfortunately, 
before I could secure a haldarahd or introducer, the King un- 
expectedly set out on an expedition against a rebel. I re- 
mained at Gondar till Tuesday, and then bade a final adieu to 
the Bishop and other friends, and quitted, as I thought for 
ever, the capital of Abyssinia. Captain Cameron, and also the 
Frenchman Bardel, accompanied me about two hours on my 
road, and then shook hands and parted. 

My people as well as myself were in the happiest mood, a 
feeling which even our animals seemed to share, for they 
marched with ease along the shelving path and even dizzying 
precipices up to the plain of Woggera. Here, to my surprise, 
I saw the King's white tent glittering in the sun's rays on 
one of the heights which dot the plateau. Duty as well as 
courtesy forbade me to advance without saluting His Majesty. 
This induced me to halt ; and towards afternoon I proceeded, 
accompanied by two servants, of whom one spoke a little 
Arabic, to the royal camping-ground. 

After waiting about two hours. His Majesty came into 
the open aii*. Myself and attendants immediately made a 
most humble obeisance. There was a frown on the King's 
countenance, which augured nothing auspicious. Between 
the first question and the death of my two servants, the hand 
of time could not have advanced ten minutes. The gloom of 
approaching night, the rattling of the sticks, and my own 
doubtful fate prompted me to put my hand mechanically to 
my lips, or, as it was said, to put a finger into my mouth. 


This was construed into a crime, and in less time than these 
words take to pen, I was stript, beaten, and lay almost lifeless 
on the ground. AVounded, bruised, and bleeding, my execu- 
tioners dragged or rather caiTied me down the hill, where my 
swollen wrist was fasten by a hoop and chain to the arm of a 
soldier. My guardian, moved with compassion, tried with 
rank grass to stanch the blood which profusely welled out 
of more than a score of gashes and scars ; but, finding the 
effort useless, he wrapt himself in his sJiama, and, with my 
sj)ectral form clinging to him, fell asleep. I also sank several 
times into a feverish stupor ; and, oh ! how gladly would I have 
passed the wearisome hours of night in forgetfulness, had not 
the shifting motion of blood in my mouth and throat denied 
me this indulgence. In sighs, groans, and excruciating 
agonies the night waned, and the beautiful stars, unconscious 
of mortal woes, glittered with wonted brightness in the 
eastern horizon. 

At daylight I was given into the charge of several chiefs, 
whilst the King moved on to Grondar. The villagers, as also 
my guards, showed me much sympathy, and like the good 
Samaritan they washed my wounds, and brought me an 
abundance of milk, the only nourishment my inflamed lips and 
gums allowed me to swallow down. Midday, my servants 
strongly guarded were conducted to my temporary prison ; 
and never shall I forget the shrieks, lamentations, and 
agonizing contortions which the sight of their afilicted master 
occasioned. Orders had been sent that I should have foot and 
hand-fetters ; but as my ankles were too much inflamed for the 
hoops, they transgressed the royal command, and only tied 
my left hand to my right ankle. 

The next day a detachment of troops came to escort me and 
my servants to Grondar. I was now treated as a regular 
criminal : in fact, my position became so painful and my 
physical suffering so intense, that I looked for death as a 
happy release. The abject condition to which I had been 


reduced softened even the flinty hearts of my guards, and, 
amidst words of comfort and hope, they told me in whisper- 
ing breath that my intimacy with the Bishop, and the report 
that he had sold the church lands to me and the British 
Consul, were the cause of my misfortune, and that it might 
have fared worse with me had I passed the royal camp, as 
arrangements had already been made for my arrest. Loss of 
blood and want of food, beyond a few biscuits, brought on a 
melancholy and a depression of spirits which language cannot 

On the fourth day (I believe) Mr. Flad, M. Bardel, Samuel 
(a convert of Bishop Gobat*), and two officers of the royal 
household came to inspect my luggage, as I was suspected of 
having letters from the Bishop or Captain Cameron. My 
photographic sketches and a well-assorted collection of in- 
sects, however, entirely absorbed their curiosity, and the 
search turned out to be only a farce. 

In going away, I mentioned to M. Bardel that I had papers 
and diaries which might compromise me, to which he readily 
replied, " Don't be afraid ; for, if anything is found, I will say 

they are the journals of a gentleman in England," My 

visitors gave me and my luggage again in charge to the guards, 
and then left. A few days later all the missionary agents 
arrived at Gondar, and at the royal behest visited me. They 
all thought, as I subsequently learnt, that my days were 
numbered, and that I could not possibly survive my horrid 
wounds. Mr. Plad, who remained at Gondar, obtained leave 
to give me medicine ; and his occasional hope-inspiring visits, 
and a regular supply of wholesome provisions from the house 
of the Consul, staved off the fever, contrary to the expectation 
of my friends, and brought on a better state of health. The 
anticipated arrival of favourable letters from the British 
Government, as well as the energetic efforts of the Metro- 

[* Samuel was converted (that is to say, baptized) by Mr. Iseuberg, 
Bishop Gobat's successor, as is related in note t to page 79. — C. B.] 


politan and other friends, dispelled every doubt of my speedy 
release. Captain Cameron, Her Majesty's Consul, also kindly 
offered to exert himself officially in my behalf; but I disclaimed 
all assistance that was not strictly of a conciliatory and 
friendly character. 

About the beginning of November, the King wrote to his 
European workmen at Gaffat, that he had tortured me long 
enough, and that if they approved of it they sliould come to 
Gondar and reconcile us. My prosj)ects now looked bright 
and hopeful, when, unexpectedly, His Majesty was informed 
(I know by whom, but will not without positive proof give 
the name) that I had papers unfavourable to him. This was 
exactly four weeks after my beating and incarceration. Not 
dreaming of anything inauspicious, and animated by the sweet 
hope of liberty, I passed the greater part of the day in con- 
versation with my guards, when unexpectedly Samuel and a 
party of soldiers came rushing into my prison, seized every 
article in it, and carried it oif to the King. My Egyptian 
servant, Joseph, who had been my fellow-prisoner though not 
in chains, was desired to follow. Two hours of torturing 
suspense had elapsed, when bags, boxes, &c. were again 
brought back, minus every paper and book. I anxiously in- 
terrogated poor Joseph about every incident ; but he was so 
agitated and nervous that I could only gather from his in- 
coherent sentences that every paper and book had been 
handed to M. Bardel, who acted as examiner, and that now 
and then the King said Cocah (my name in Amharie*) is a 
hilhatenya (clever man) ; then again, a tonJculenya (cunning 
man) . 

The glowing prospect of freedom and restoration to the 
bosom of my family, from that hour, like the declining rays of 
sun, sank before my mind's vision, and all again became dark. 
Cheerless and dismal and removed from all human aid, I 

[* In Amharie and Arabic Cocah means ''star," as Stern does in 
German. — C. B.] 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, APRIL 1805, 339 

threw myself then, as during all my subsequent sufFerings, on 
the arm of Omnipotence, and fearlessly braved tlie crested 
waves that threatened to engulf me. 

In the evening I was given in charge of severer guards, and 
tied hands and feet. Joseph, who was tenderly attached to 
me, unable to check his deep emotion, groaned and sighed as 
if his heart would burst. Twenty-five soldiers and five chiefs 
were now appointed as my regular guard ; but, notwithstanding 
this formidable watch, some during the night actually put 
their legs across my stifiened limbs, to prevent what they 
must have thought a miraculous escape. No stranger was 
allowed to approach my tent. A servant of the chief of the 
soldiers now and then baked me a few flat cakes, and brought 
me a leather bottle of water. One of the guards, into whose 
good graces I had wormed myself, informed me that I had an 
enemy at Gondar, and, snapping his fingers (a sign that all 
was over), ejaculated "We are all dust, and must die." 

On Tuesday evening, as stated, I was bound with fetters on 
hands and feet, and on the Monday following, I heard from a 
delegate of the King that all the missionary agents had been 
brought in chains to the camp. Subsequently I was informed 
that they had all been again released, then that one was still 
in irons ; and finally, to add to the confusion, M. Makerer, a 
French servant of the British Consul, sent me word through 
a soldier that the longed-for letter from the British Grovern- 
ment would arrive in two days, and that on Friday I was to 
be liberated. Seconds yielded to minutes, minutes to hours, 
and at last came Friday. I had already lost trust in messages ; 
but early on that morning, to my agreeable surprise and grati- 
tude, the feet-chains were opened. Less guarded than usual, 
I sat in my tented prison, and prayerfully ruminated on my 
future destiny. About midday my fierce chief jailer marched 
into the tent, and commanded that I should accompany him to 
His Ma-jesty. 

I immediately obeyed the summons ; but, instead of a pri- 


vate interview with the monarch, I found the whole army- 
drawn up in a square, the furthest line of which was occupied 
by a kind of throne, on which sat the King, shaded by gigantic 
silken umbrellas. On the left side of His Majesty I noticed 
Messrs. Bardel and Zander, and on the right a host of priests 
and scribes ; whilst in the interior of the square and squatted 
on carpets were ranged in opposite lines the King's European 
workmen, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, and the mission- 
aries. The grins of some and the dejection of others filled me 
A\dth a mingled feeling of contempt and gratitude. Scarcely 
one of the Europeans ventured to gaze at me, whilst myriads 
of black glittering eyes vainly tried to pierce my iimiost 

Eearless and confident in the purity and integrity of my 
actions, I calmly awaited the issue of that pompous court of 
justice. My Christian fortitude (and I do not say it in a 
boastful strain) , which always rose higher as the danger be- 
came more imminent, almost flagged, as on looking round I 
saw Rosenthal in chains standing about a hundred steps from 
me. Ignorant of the crimes he had committed, I forgot 
entirely my own misery, and allowed an excited fancy to tor- 
ment itself in reflecting on the sorrow, grief, and pain I had 
brought upon others. The distress, agony, and horror of his 
desolate young wife rose like a revolting phantom before my 
mental vision, and unconsciously made me shake the abomi- 
nable fetters by which I was held. A violent pull from the 
jailer put a stop to the dreamy speculation. 

The Fetha Negest was then read ; and according to that code 
the verdict of death was pronounced on all who spoke, wrote, 
or ofi"ended the King, Judgment being thus announced 
before the accusations were read, the prisoners were naturally 
deprived of all defence or hope. For form's sake the charges 
were however read. Ten articles were, I believe, brought 
forward against me ; and the most formidable of these were, the 
assertion that a war between the King and a foreign power 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, APRIL 18G5. 311 

would remove intolerance and introduce religious liberty — 
that since the death of Mr. Bell the King had no good coun- 
sellor — that various provinces and also Djenda had been 
plundered — and, lastly, that in passing a place where lay 
bleaching in the sun 700 or 800 skulls, I had stated in my 
diary they had been murdered in cold blood. The only 
offensive statement in my book, of which I had unfortunately 
one copy, was the pedigree of His Majesty ; and the last heavy 
crime consisted in my having a few harmless and complimen- 
tary notes from the Metropolitan. 

Rosenthal's sins, which were laid upon me though I knew 
not a word of what he had written till that very moment, con- 
sisted in some remarks about the King's private life, m a letter 
to a relative in London. Even Mrs. Mad was arraigned before 
this Imperial court, and that, forsooth, because she wrote to 
me a note a year before, in which she stated that the Abys- 
sinian lion had degenerated into a tiger, which note I care- 
lessly threw among other papers. She was immediately par- 
doned on account of her husband ; but myself and Mr. Rosen- 
thal, uotwitlistauding all I urged against the malice and 
obvious perversions in the translations, were unanimously 
declared guilty. Knowing full weU from sad experience what 
the verdict implied, I appealed to Samuel and entreated him 
to solicit the royal pardon in oiu" behalf. At first he did not 
deign to give me a reply ; but on reiterating the request, he 
angrily retorted " to-morrow, to-morrow." 

The King now waved his hand, and both Mr, Eosenthal and 
myself were led off to our common tented prison. The chains 
were the same day again fastened round our legs, and faith had 
once more to exert its energy and seek refuge from surrounding 
despair in the arms of Omnipotence, Judgment was given on 
Friday, and on Monday morning all my luggage was for the 
last time carried oflT to the Kins:. The same evening Shaka* 

[* Shaka or Shdiaka is a contraction of ya shih dlaka, tlie chief of a 
thousand, or chiliarch. Like most Abyssinian titles, it is often nicrt'l}- 


Ubye, our fiendish jailer, tumbled half drunk into our tent, and 
after eyeing me awhile like a basilisk exclaimed, " If I had 
a sword, I woiild cut off that dog's head;" and then, making 
again a pause, he jumped up, dragged me aloug the ground by 
the chain, and amidst a shower of the vilest epithets, began to 
hammer tight my fetters. Rosenthal having on slave-irons, he 
could not augment his torture, and so he dismissed him with 
the remark, " He is a hdla-makerali " i. e. a sufferer on account 
of the other. These harassing scenes wrung the heart, and 
made death to be courted more than life. 

On the next morning Samuel and an officer came to our 
prison, and in the name of His Majesty promised me a pardon 
and favours, if I confessed that through the family of the wife 
of Has Ubye, one of the greatest men in the country, I had 
obtained the information respecting the royal descent. I de- 
precated all acquaintance, direct or indirect, with that family ; 
and my tormentors walked off in a discontented and angry 
humour. A spasmodic calm, like the lull of the elements be- 
fore the outburst of a storm, now crept into our tent. We 
attributed this to the arrival of the impatiently expected letter 
from the British Grovernment, an intelligence that came to us 
quite accidentally. Every day, though in misery of a life-long 
duration, must pei"form its diurnal motion, and add its segment 
to the past. This we mournfully experienced in our captivity, 
where even minutes became long periods in one's sad existence. 

The memorable 4th of December at length broke, with 
wonted brightness, upon the afflicted and happy, the prisoner 
and the free. About noon that day our fetters on the feet 
were removed, and, escorted by a detachment of soldiers, we 
were conducted before the King. His Majesty was at our 
arrival engaged in administering justice, and for two hours we 
had to stand close to the criminals who were undergoing the 
dreadful punishment of the djirdf*. 

honorary. I have taken on myself to alter the spelling of this and 
several other words as written by Mr. Stern. — C. B.] 

* A wliip made of liijipopolamiis liidt;, about ^i fi'et long. 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, APRIL I8f)5. 343 

On being summoned nearer, His Majesty ironically said, in 
reference to an expression wliicli had inadvertently dropped 
from my lips, " Are you now afraid ? " We gave no reply, but 
quietly resigned ourselves to Him who is a help to His servants 
in all times of need. His Majesty then peremptorily inquired 
why we had insulted him ? Fearlessly, though respectfully, I 
returned, " Our object has not been to insult your Majesty, 
nor have we Avritten a single word in the language of this 
country ; but if we have done wrong we humbly crave your 
royal pardon." Samuel, who acted as interpreter, had not 
quite finished translating this sentence, when the King com- 
manded to take away our shammas and shirts. Miserable, 
wretched, with a mere rag around the waist, we were con- 
ducted back to our prison. 

Our guards now consulted among themselves whether they 
should leave us in the open air, or permit us again to occupy 
the tent. The fear of our escape induced them to consign us 
again to our old place, where on the bare ground we spent a 
never-to-be-forgotten twelve hours. Cold and chilly was the 
night ; gloomy and sad appeared the dawn of day. Our chief 
jailer, who had gone to the King, came back in about two 
hours ; but instead of leading us to execution, as we had every 
reason to believe, he brought to each a tattered rag, and also 
ordered us to have some bread and water. 

Respite and not release did not lighten our burden or miti- 
gate our mental and physical sufferings. A young native lad 
in the service of Mr. Plad, accompanied by a friendly soldier, 
occasionally came to the door of our tent, and by signs gave us 
to understand that we were ere long to be liberated. Our 
guards also put a stop to their petty tyrannies, and some be- 
came even civil and communicative. We now heard from all 
sides that our lives had been in imminent peril ; nay, we were 
assured that on the day the King had us stripped, the knives 
to cut off our hands and feet were actually lying close to the 
spot where we stood, and that the fell deed was only prevented 

2 A 


by the energetic remonstrances and intercession of the head of 
the monks. Thus, ahnost miraculously delivered from mutila- 
tion and a horrible death, we shook off" the depressing melan- 
choly which had deprived us almost of our senses, and began 
afi'esh to foster the prayerful hope of freedom and liberty. 

Fifteen days more of trouble and exhausting anxiety rolled 
away. I do not recollect the date, but it was on a rainy and 
dull morning, that our tent-door was lifted up, and, to our 
surprise as well as joy, there entered Flad, Samuel, and seve- 
ral of the Bishop's and King's people. My body being almost 
bent double by the chains, Flad softly requested me not to 
rise, as is customary at the receipt of a royal message, but 
simply told me that His Majesty wished me to give him the 
exact price of certain silks which had been presented to him by 
the Metropolitan*. 

Having finished the valuation, Avhich I could easily do, as 
most had been purchased by me in England, Samuel ordered 
me to get up, and he then informed me that it had been the 
King's design to kill me, but that God had not permitted it, 
and that now / had the oneans of regaining the royal favotir, if 
I supplied Mr. Flad, who was going to Europe, loith letters to 
procure machines and one or two gunpoioder-makers. On the 
return of Mr, Flad, His Majesty would also allow me to 
leave Abyssinia, and that, too, overloaded with presents and a 
name famous in Africa and Europe. During the interval His 
Majesty would set me free and afford me occupation in taking 
for him photographic sketches. I felt inclined to object to all 
these proposals ; but Flad, to whom the King himself had 
shown the spot where he intended to kill me, advised me to 
give an unqualified assent to every demand, or otherwise it 
might go badly with myself and also with Mr. Rosenthal. 

His Majesty sent the following day to open our hand-chains, 

* The Bishop presented to the King on his own account articles of 
considerable value, hoping thereby to pain liis favour and promote my 
restoration to freedom. 

MR, STKUn's LElTEll FROM MAGDALA, APRIL 1805. 8 k") 

but, on Mr. Flad's representation that my legs were in a bad 
state, the order was reversed. Samuel subsequently said that 
the King wanted that the same fetters should that very day be 
attached to the Consul and Makerer, and that he had to beg 
most earnestly to prevent the command from being carried 
into eflect. Our afFairs, though still undecided, assumed a 
more favourable aspect. AVe were again allowed to have a 
servant and also clothing, which (you will smile) consisted of 
shifts from Mrs. Eosenthal's and Mrs. Flad's rifled wardrobes. 
What we most prized were two Bibles, a solace we had not 
enjoyed for six long and trying weeks. Poor Joseph, whose 
constitution fright, terror, and suffering had entirely sapped, 
was removed to Gondar, where, after a week's illness, he 
breathed his last. 

Two or three days after the above incidents, Mr. Flad and 
Samuel came again to me and requested me to write to my 
friends to ensure the success of Mr. Flad's mission. Mechani- 
cally I complied with the royal behest, and then made some 
oral arrangement with Flad on the subject. Another year of 
exile appeared inevitable. The King himself communicated 
his agreement with me to the Europeans at Gaffat. Judging 
rightly of my feelings, they gently remonstrated with the King 
against my further detention, and, instead of a machine and 
powder -makers through me, they promised to provide them 
selves all that His Majesty required. Their objection appeared 
plausible to the King, and they tvere requested to cotne to tlie 
camp at Gondar to reconcile its, when Captain Cameron, unin- 
formed of all this, sent in a letter demanding leave to depart 
for his post at Massowah, in compliance with orders from the 
British Government. This once more proved fatal to my own 
and Rosenthal's prospects ; and on January 3rd, 18G4, Captain 
Cameron, his European servants, and all the missionaries were 
put in fetters, and we, together with them, confined to one 
common prison within the royal enclosure 

2 A 2 


July 13, 1865. 

We anticipated that Mr. Eassani, Hex* Majesty's agent 

at Massowali, would, by his friendly and conciliatory letters to 
the King, ere this have appeased his oftended pride and ob- 
tained our release from these galling chains. Our anticipa- 
tions have however to our grief not been realized ; and we 
must still for some time be patient and prayerful expectants 
of coming deliverance. His Majesty about ten days ago 
wrote to Mr. Eassam to come to Abyssinia ; and his advent 
and the delivery of the Queen's letter, we believe, may possibly 
effect our liberation. 

Just now everything here is in a transition state ; and it is 
quite impossible to prognosticate the events of the ensuing few 
months or even weeks. A general undisguised presentiment 
of a change is evinced in the open revolt of all the important 
provinces ; and relentless despotism may soon experience a 
terrible retribution. My own and most of my fellow-pri- 
soner's misfortunes may, to a great extent, be attributed to 
the crafty insinuations and insidious malice of godless, unprin- 
cipled men, who in tlie ruin of others sought to attain their 
own nefarious and selfish ends. I do not, however, despair or 

To-day I have been in chains twenty-one months ; and al- 
though during that long heart-wasting existence I have had to 
submit to fiendish tortures, and more than once have been 
obliged to face (apparently) a cruel death, yet I enjoy an infi- 
nite satisfaction in the consciousness that by an inflexible 
Christian firmness I saved others and won influential friends 
to the cause of Missions in Abyssinia. His Majesty, since our 
arrival here, has not favoured us even with an en passant 
inquiry. Placed on a level with murderers, robbers, and other 
great criminals, our days have rolled on in the usual sad mono- 
tony of savage prison life. 

Within tlic last few days wc have, however, again experi- 
enced something of His Majesty's feelings against the white 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, JirLY IMtiI, 1805. 317 

prisoners. The cause of this fresh outburst of indignation is 
utterly unconnected with our affairs. On the night of the 
1st inst., Menilek, the Crown-Prince of Shoa, and son-in-law 
to the Negus Theodore, unexpectedly quitted the royal camp, 
and, accompanied by his followers (but not by his young wife), 
fled to bis own country. The King, irritated at the desertion 
of another powerful prop of his throne, next morning executed 
all the G-alla prisoners, then quarrelled with the Eisliop, and 
at last his chafed spirit vented itself on all liis Christian pri- 
soners, by giving them, besides foot-, band-chaina also. This 
art of tormenting (which is ascribed to the wise King of Israel) 
is a most cruel iuvention, particularly when, as in our case, the 
fetters are so short, that one is actually bent double and un- 
able to move about by day or to stretch our weary limbs by night. 
There is a report that we are to be released from these abomi- 
nable hand-shacldes. I shall be thankful if it proves to be 
true, as the stooping attitude affects my head and causes great 
pain in the spine. 

August 9, 18G5. 
.... On Sunday morning, January 3, 18G4, some of our 
guards with bated breath informed us that the Negus was 
sending and receiving messages from the Frendjotj (the Consul 
and tbe Missionaries), and that probably we should be libe- 
rated. Tossed about on a sea of trouble and care, any intel- 
ligence of this kind, even from the lips of an Abyssinian, did 
not fail to excite our depressed spirits to renewed courage and 
confidence. About midday our truculent jailer strode in 
breathless hurry into our tent, and, after convincing himself 
that all was right, ordered in the name of His Majesty a de- 
tachment of troops to execute an important behest. I did not 
understand the commission ; but the promptitude witb which 
all sallied forth convinced me that they -n-ere charged to arrest 
a prisoner or to seize some property *. 

* Subsequently we heard that tliey had beeu dispatched to Goudar 
to arrest the Consul's people and to seize the property in his own 


Later our redoubtable Shaka Ubye once more made his ap- 
pearance, and in an imperative tone commanded us to accom- 
pany him to the King. On leaving the tent Rosenthal said to 
me, "What do you think this summons signifies?" "On a 
Sunday," I returned, "we need not to apprehend anything 
inauspicious." A group of curious idlers followed us within 
the fence that divided the royal camp from that of the troops. 
A second palisaded enclosure on a small eminence, occupied 
by white and black tents, revealed the abode of His Majesty 
and the royal household. We thought that we were to be 
conducted up to that busy acclivity where a few weeks before 
we had such a doleful interview ; but instead of this our 
guards escorted us to a white tent on the left that ominously 
fronted an elevated bank, on which two 4-pounders, mounted 
on rickety ship-carriages, ostentatiously displayed their unpo- 
lished brazen fronts. A profusion of ragged carpets covered 
the entire space between these pieces of ordnance and the 
pavilion, — a parade of regal pomp quite unusual except on 
grand gala days. 

Our excited imagination immediately ran riot with all sorts 
of pleasing conjectures, which even now, after the lapse of 
so many trying months, I recall with satisfaction, as they 
afforded me a passing relief from perpetual trouble and care. 
The happy illusion in which I indulged was dispelled on a 
nearer approach. His Abyssinian Majesty had for some 
months felt disposed to quarrel, or, as he emphatically styled 
it, to humble the pride of the Europeans (probably England 
and Erance) ; but his rigorous severity towards the two white 
prisoners, and the still lingering expectation of a favourable 
reply to his letter to the British Grovernment, imposed a tem- 
porary restraint on his towering pride. The delay, or I believe 
the certainty of no answer, and the request of the Consul to 

house, as well as everything in the ti'nipomry home of Mrs. Ilosenthal 
and Mrs. Had. 


start for bis post, together with the crafty insinuations of ill- 
disposed individuals, produced their baneful efiect, and Cap- 
tain Cameron, the missionaries, and every other European 
not in the actual service of His Majesty, were insultingly 

Ignorant of all that had occurred, and seeing my friends sad 
and desponding, diffidently, as if I dreaded the inquiry, I said, 
" What is the meaning of all this ? " Mr. Elad with a forced 
calmness responded, " We are all j)risouers, and about to be 
chained." The manacles were indeed soon brought,and under the 
auspices of Basha Olash (now in chains at Magdala) hammered 
around the wrists of the culprits. The custom of attaching a 
soldier to each prisoner was in the present instance not strictly 
followed ; two white men to one black was deemed sufficient 
security, and myself and Rosenthal, who w'ere considered 
harmless criminals, the chief commanded to be merely shackled 
to each other. 

As the hour of evening drew nigh, a strong guard took their 
station in and around the tent, and, as if suspicious of the 
white man's skill in opening chains and making use of potent 
spells to burst impassable barricades, they watched our slight- 
est movements with a nervous trepidation. The dark shades 
of night had already enveloped in their murky mantle every 
object, when Samuel entered our prison, and in the blandest 
accents, which were contradicted by the smiles of satisfaction 
that lit up his sharp features, inquired whether Captain 
Cameron had his bed and wonted comforts. He also benig- 
nantly favoured me with an oblique glance, and en jMissant 
remarked, " I hope you are happier now in the company of 
friends than m your former isolated position." He relieved 
us of some of the guards who most inconveniently thronged 
the tent, and then bidding us an EgziahMr yasfatdtjhu, " may 
Grod deliver you," slunk quietly away. 

The next day the servants of our fellow-prisoners, who at 
the first alarm had sought the bush, on obtaining better tidings 


came again straggling into Gondar, from whence some found 
their way to their incarcerated masters. The retributions 
already inflicted for an imaginary insult, one might have 
thought would have satisfied even a more sensitive monarch 
than the "successor of Solomon;" but chains alone were 
not deemed sufficient, and the few defenceless strangers must 
be despoiled of the property in their possession. In tliis 
glorious enterprise, so congenial to the taste of the royal 
marauders, the most heartless conduct was exhibited. In the 
vacated tents of the Consul and the missionaries in the camp, 
where they had been for some weeks unchained prisoners, they 
seized every article tliat was either of value or use ; but their 
prowess could not achieve similar exploits unopposed in Mrs. 
riad's and Mrs. Eosenthal's dwelling at Gondar. 

These ladies, roused to a pitch of frenzy, defied heroically 
the cowardly attempts of the rufiians to rob them and their 
helpless babes of their necessary food and clothing. Mrs. Flad 
particularly distinguished herself in the encounter with the 
undisciplined savages. " Go tell your King," she said, ener- 
getically, to the leader of the band, " that we are weak oppressed 
women, yet, if he wishes to kill us, we together with our infants 
shall deem it a mercy to be despatched at once, rather than be 
subject to a slow and lingering torture." This message w^as 
delivered verhatim to His Majesty, and he swallowed the 
smarting rebuke by merely observiug, " These M'hite women 
compared to ours are perfect devils." 

Even Mrs. Rosenthal with her limited knowledge of the 
language boldly faced some of the dei:)redators. One brave, 
who had forcibly wrested from her a few pieces of sugar, she 
pursued courageously through the camp-ground, and would not 
give up the chase till the fellow restored the stolen article. 
Another black, amidst rude ribaldry wanted to test the com- 
forts of an iron folding chair. Mrs. Eoscnthal immediately 
hastened to close it ; but Mrs. Flad had already laid hold on the 
leg, and the coarse savage, before he had tasted the luxury of a 

MR, stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 18G5. 351 

civilized seat, to the amusement of his compauious tumbled 
heavily on the stony ground. Poor little Anne, Flad's eldest 
girl, about four years old, had her temper also ruffled during 
the pillage. Her rag doll which she had carefully concealed 
in a particular nook, was accidentally discovered and confis- 
cated by the robbers. With tears and " by the King's death," 
she protested against this illegal seizure; but the ruthless 
heroes were deaf to her entreaties, and for more than half an 
hour capered madly around it ere they yielded it up to the 
sobbing child. 

While such and similar scenes were being enacted at Gon- 
dar, a crossfire of questions and answers was lustily kept up 
between His Majesty and the Frendjotj. The vexatious topic 
of the unfortunate letter and certain personal favours * formed 
the staple of the queries put to Her Majesty's Consul. From 
the tenor of the questions one could perceive that His Majesty 
began to be conscious that in his conduct towards all he had 
exceeded the bounds of a ruler and a professing Christian ; 
but, stimulated by burning revenge, he stifled every better and 
more generous sentiment, and haughtily informed Captain 
Cameron that he knew Her Britannic Majesty would send 
some great man to inquire into his proceeding towards her 
representative and the other Frendjotj ; but then as now his 
answer would be, " I can do in my country what I please." 

Captain Cameron's business being dismissed, Samuel, the 
royal delegate, turned his vulture eyes upon me, and demanded 
to know what I meant by the statements contained in my 
papers, that " if the Negiis provoked the hostility of the French 
or the aggression of the Turks, the conflict would probably break 
the enthralling bonds of intolerance and confer the boon of re- 
ligious liberty on Abyssinia." " His Majesty," I responded, 
" is already acquainted with the views of the Emperor Napoleon 

* I made it a rule with myself and fellow-labourers not to accept 
any presents from the King, bej'ond a cow or a few sheep ; and now 
he could not reproach me with his imappreciated favours and gifts. 


on this subject, as they were embodied in the letter conveyed 
to the King through M. Bardel ; and it would consequently be 
a superfluous task for me to give a comment on language that 
was plain enough." " And what will England do if such a 
contingency should arise?" rejoined my interlocutor. "The 
British Government," I returned, " has always cherished the 
most friendly feelings towards Abyssinia, and it might be, if 
they thought that religious toleration would enhance the moral 
and material welfare of the country, that they would support, 
without insisting on such a concession." 

Samuel carried these answers back to the King, and then 
returned again, and in a stern tone said, " the Negus has 
heard your replies, and did he deem it expedient he could tell 
you a secret about England ; but what does it matter ? time 
will reveal it." I was anxious to discover the meaning of this 
mystery, which evidently was some mischievous intelligence 
communicated by the lying tongue of an unprincipled royal 
parasite. Samuel saw the drift, and, as he had perhaps ample 
reason to evade an explanation, he promptly slided the interro- 
gations into a new groove, and in the name of His Majesty 
proudly insisted that I should mention the name or names of 
the parties who had furnished me the particidars about the 
royal ancestry. Here a war of words ensued. Samuel dexte- 
rously tried to extort the names, and I adroitly eluded his 
request. Baffled and thwarted, the indignant courtier arro- 
gantly demanded that I should tell him the title I had be- 
stowed in my book* on the parent of the Negus. Too much 
candour here betrayed me into a serious mistake ; for instead 
of saying that I had stated His Majesty's father was the Duke 
[Uedjazmatj] of Kwara, I lowered him to the grade of a mere 
laldta, " nobleman," a dignity arrogated by many a despised 

This day of intense misery tardily at length drcAV to a close, 
and, freed from our tormentor, each one according to his incli- 
* * Wanderings among the Falashas.' 

MR. STERN\s letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST DtII, 18G5. ,'3.").'> 

nation was once more allowed to chew the bitter cud of his 
own ill-boding imagination. In the evening our tyrannical 
jailer Shaka Ubye, on resuming his night-watch, brought the 
Amharic Kew Testament, and pointing to the last verse of the 
first chapter of the Epistle to the Eomans, which stands on 
the top of the page, commanded me and Rosenthal to give the 
Negiis an explanation of the passage the next day. The awful 
import of the text, and the frightful verdict it denounces on 
guilty, polluted sinners, made me first doubt whether I was 
among sane or mad savages ; but when I recollected the dire 
emphasis Samuel had laid on the words, which, in the course 
of the interrogations, had escaped my lips, " If it pleases God 
to bring me back to England, I shall know how to correct tlic 
pedigree of His Majesty," aU misgivings vanished, and I 
anticipated without dread or terror my approaching doom. 
For weeks and weeks I had indeed been weary of this lin- 
gering torture and incessant misery; and now when the 
ominous warning came, the knell of parting life was to me 
merely an emancipation from the cruel and bitter tyranny of 
earth, to the glory, peace, and rest of heaven. Our heartless 
jailer who, I believe, never felt any other emotion in his 
petrified bosom than that caused by the love of rapine and 
plunder, on hearing from Mr. Elad the contents of the verse, 
compassionately remarked, " They are not bad men, but this is 
a bad business." 

Gradually the night rolled away, and daylight with its 
cheering sun and bustling hum broke upon the sad and lonely 
prisoners*. There was no conversation, and no interchange 
of thought ; every one had sorrow engraven on his brow, and 
gloomy misgivings concealed in his heart. Anticipating every 
moment the fatal summons, faith, invigorated by Divine grace, 

* Subsequently Captain Cameron, Flad, and Cornelius told me that 
during^ those anxious hours they had fi-equently cast secret glances on 
the vacant padduck near our tent, to see if the gallows on which thu 
victims of tyranny were to suiler, was in the course of erection. 


triumphed over the throes of impending death , and, without 
one of those ever shifting fluctuations of hojDe and fear which 
under such circumstances naturally agitate the human breast, 
I watched calmly and composedly the flying hours of time. 
Midday passed — the afternoon declined — evening approached, 
and still no royal messenger made his appearance. Another 
night of earthly cares slowly waned away, and a new day of 
troubles stole quietly in upon us. 

At length, about noon, Samuel, that messenger of evil, 
appeai-ed in our prison. After a condescending salutation, 
which even in the moment of the basest intrigue he never 
omitted, Mr. Rosenthal and myself were required to rise, and 
in the best Arabic of his rejected Koran, he ordered me, at 
the behest of his royal master, to expound the pointed-out 
passage of Sacred Writ. Instantly I seized the New Testa- 
ment, and commenting on the whole chapter, told Samuel that 
the terrible indictment of the Apostle against an unbelieving 
world had not the remotest connexion with the ofiences 
charged upon us ; but if His Majesty thought the reverse, we 
both deplored to have incurred his displeasure, and craved his 
clemency. Samuel now read the chapter himself, and as he 
came to the revolting catalogue of crimes alleged against the 
fallen posterity of Adam, he unwillingly vented his astonish- 
ment at the unhappy selection in the ejaculation, " Djanhoi ! 
Djanhoi ! " " Oh, King ! Oh, King ! " 

His Majesty himself, rather ashamed of his quotation, or 
satisfied that he had inflicted sufiicient sufferings, on the 
return of the messenger informed us that the unlettered 
Shaka Ubye had stupidly stuck his digits on the last verse of 
the 1st cliapter, instead of the beginning of the 2nd. The re- 
proof he now designed to administer was obvious, and there- 
fore, without expatiating on the propounded passage, I sought 
to mollify the hard heart of our oppressor, by soliciting Samuel 
to inform him tliat both Eosenthal and myself lamented ito 
have involuntarily oflended him, and in iiuitaj:ion of the coiu- 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAODALA, AUGUST 9x11, 18G5. 3')') 

passionate Saviour to repentant sinners, recorded in the 1st 
Epistle of St. Jolm, chapter 1, verses 8 and 9, we implored him 
to accept our apology and suffering as an atonement for cur 

Samuel soon returned with the message that His Majesty- 
had read the passage, and as he hoped to oUain forgiveness of 
his sins he also extended pardon and entire oblivion for the fast 
to tis ; and henceforth, added the servile courtier, you will pray 
for the Negus, as the Negiis charges me to tell you he will 
pray for you. The shadows of death in which we had been 
enshrouded for twice twenty-four hours were now dispelled, 
and, relieved from the spectral vision of a cruel torturing 
martyrdom, we once more speculated on liberty and freedom. 
Pardoned — but in chains ; restored to royal favour — but in 
prison, may appear puzzling paradoxes ; but it must be re- 
collected that His Majesty was then in the swing of glory, 
and, impelled by untamed passion, he resented the imaginary 
slight of the British Grovernment on the few defenceless 
strangers in his power. 

On the same day that the Negus manifested a faint inclina- 
tion to generosity and mercy, the rest of the white prisoners, 
consisting of Mrs. Elad, Mrs. Eosenthal, Joseph and Schiller, 
two Grerman ornithologists, Kerans, M'^Kilvie, and Makerer, 
two English and one Frenchman, in the service of the Consul, 
were conducted from Gondar down into the camp. The two 
ladies, who were not treated like regular prisoners, were taken 
by Samuel to that part of the camp occupied by his establish- 
ment ; and the rest, after receiving then* chains, were located 
in a tent opposite to our own. 

Moved by caprice, or perhaps satisfied revenge, the King 
ordered a few of the most worthless articles among the pillage 
to be restored to the prisoners. Here an incident occurred 
which strikingly illustrated the guardian care of our Heavenly 
Eather, and inspired the depressed soul with unwavering faith 
and trust. 



About the middle of November 18G3, Mr. Kerans had 
arrived at Gondar, witli a packet for the Consul. Amongst 
the letters there were several for me ; but as I was a closely 
guarded malefactor and unapproacliable, Mrs. Eosenthal took 
charge of them. On the day that her property was a second 
time entirely confiscated, these longed-for epistles from distant 
friends were safely concealed in a secret drawer in her work- 
box. Anxious to destroy everything that might compromise 
me afresh, she tried hard to abstract them, but the keen eye 
of the guard rendered the attempt abortive. In the evening, 
to her delight, the box was restored, and though forced open, 
the clumsy depredators had not discovered the hidden recess. 
Mrs. Eosenthal immediately communicated to me this for- 
tunate recovery, and at my request she and Mrs. Flad perused 
the letters ere they were consigned to the flames. I was 
afterwards informed that they were harmless except one, 
which contained some questions about the Negus, that might 
again have roused his dark and ever wakeful suspicion, and 
involved me in new grave troubles. 

Settled down into regular prison habits, our days were wiled 
away in listless inactivity or anxious care. Now and then our 
evenings were varied by a quarrel with the guards, who, reck- 
less about space, thronged in groups into our tents, and im- 
pregnated the already stifling atmosphere with the putrescent 
odours of their foetid garments and buttered heads. The 
Negiis, too, occasionally relieved the dvdness of our existence 
by a message to the Consul, or the gift of a cow or a few 
sheep to replenish our exhaused larder. Sometimes also he 
sent and requested to know the meaning of a pirated sketch 
of the "Illustrated London News" — sometimes of a Bible 
picture — sometimes of an illuminated advertisement torn out 
of an unfortunate Monthly; hut most of all was the inquisi- 
tive descendant of Solomon interested hi/ the caricatures of 
" Funch,^^ which lay scattered among tlic plundered archives 
of the British Consulate. 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 18G5. 357 

These friendly communications rendered tlic dreaded pre- 
sence of Samuel quite amusing, and his visits, which were 
neither few nor far between, were then always diverting and 
agreeable. One day he walked into our tent scowling like -a 
fiend, and handed to the Consul a large full-written sheet of 
paper. As I was standing close to him, I cast a glance on the 
formidable document, and without betraying my emotions 
perceived that it was an energetic protest of M. Lejean, the 
French Consul, against the treatment he had received from King 
Theodores. Captain Cameron, after glancing over it, exclaimed, 
"Samuel! Samuel! this is a sad business!" but the stem 
delegate, without attending to his words, urged him to read it. 
Having complied with the request he handed it to me, and 
commanded that I should give him the contents of it in 
Arabic. Uncharitable as it may seem, I confess it afforded 
me some satisfaction to obey the order; and heedless about 
the wrinkles which each fresh sentence wreathed on his 
frowning brow, I translated every word, not omitting even 
the brutal conduct of His Majesty in chaining the representa- 
tive of a potent foreign Sovereign in full uniform. The out- 
raged envoy restrained his boiling passion till I had concluded, 
and then he gave vent to his impotent rage in the ridiculous 
epithets, " dog, liar, donkey, why did you not say all tliis when 
you were in the King's country." 

The precious document, which unsparingly exposed the 
vanity, weakness, and barbarism of the monarch, must in 
perusing it have rankled like a barbed arrow in his ambitious 
breast. In the absence of any other white men on whom to 
retaliate, we expected that our treatment would be more ruth- 
less and severe ; but whether guided by gentler emotions, or 
actuated by a disguised presentim-ent that the day of retribu- 
tion was approaching, matters continued in statu quo, and 
"Punch," the "Illustrated London News," advertisements of 
razors and chandelier manufacturers, continued to pour into 
our tented prison. 


About the end of January reports were afloat that M. 
Bardel, who had gone on the service of the Negus to Kasala, 
the capital of Soudan, to espy what the Egyptians intended to 
do, was on his way back, and that on his arrival the European 
workmen at Gaffat would also come to the camp, whither they 
liad been summoned to attend a special Council. The rumour 
proved true ; for on the 3rd of February M. Bardel returned 
from his secret mission, and on the 5th the Europeans arrived 
from Debra Tabor. 

Immediately on their advent they repaired to the royal 
tent, from whence, after a lengthened conference, they were 
despatched to our prison. Messrs. Elad, Steiger, Brandeis, 
Cornelius (since gone to his rest), Joseph, and Schiller were 
instantly liberated — a clemency not extended to the more 
traduced and maligned objects of the royal vengeance. Our 
visitors, it is true, did not deprive us of all hope of deliverance ; 
on the contrary they assured the Consul that, if he pledged 
himself that the Bx'itish Government would not insist on 
satisfaction for all that had passed, they could without 
endangering their own lives effect our liberty, and perhaps 
permission to quit the country; if, however, this stipulation 
exceeded his authority (as was alleged) they promised to use 
their influence to secure us an unchained asylum, either at 
Gafiat or some village in the neighbourhood. Driven about 
on a sea of doubt and uncertaiuty, my mind revolted at this 
protracted, wretched captivity, and recklessly I remarked, " If 
I am to be deprived of liberty, I don't care for chains." These 
incidents may appear trifling ; but if ever a full narrative of our 
bondage and misery is published, they will explain matters 
on which a prisoner in a crowded gaol and surrounded by 
numerous guards dares not dilate. 

The interviews between His Majesty and the European 
workmen were frequent, and often, as we were informed, of 
long duration. All the Abyssiuians expected that the white 
prisoners would be set at liberty ; nay, some even averred that 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 18G5. 359 

the King bad sworn that we should not much longer sigh in 
chains. Evening at last terminated this anxious day, and 
our guards as usual obtruded themselves in disgusting numbers 
upon us. They had now a less onerous task in counting the 
prisoners, since our number had considerably diminished ; and 
it was a kind of satisfaction to hear them roar out to their 
chief " six," and gdnzabatjen, " our property," a designation 
by which Eosenthal and myself were familiarly distinguished. 
The next afternoon, Zaudye, the chief spy on the Europeans 
at GafFat, an office for which nature designed him from his 
birth, and a couple of other royal functionaries, came to remove 
the evacuated tent. We inquired when our own would be 
struck, to which they replied "Teoderos yemiit," (by Theodore's 
death*), "before many suns have risen and set." The Etjegue, 
the Prior of all the monks and Father Confessor to His Majesty, 
also sent us a friendly salutation, accompanied by a significant 
hint that we should not forget him in more prosperous circum- 
stances. The longed-for to-morrow came and closed, and so 
another and another, without any change. 

Early on the morning of the 4th f, intelligence reached us 
that the King was angry with M. Bardel, and accused him 
of being the author of the rupture between him and the 
Europeans. A little later, a young lad in the service of Mr. 
Elad, who had picked up a tolerable knowledge of the German 
language, stealthily crept into our tent bearing the same 
tidings, with the addition that we should soon be freed and 
M. Bardel chained. About noon the report received its 
verification, and M. Bardel, conducted by a detachment of 
troops, was actually led into our tent, there to await his royal 
master's pleasure. 

* [Literally " may Theodore die ! " that is to say, if the assertion 
made is not true. To tell a lie after such an asseveration is regarded 
as equivalent to " conspiring the Sovereign's death," and is conse- 
quently high treason. — C. B.] 

t [This date is eiToneous. See page 138.] 

2 B 


Discussion and inquiries were at their height when a most 
formidable and imposing deputation from the King made their 
appearance. On former occasions Shaka Ubye, Samuel, or an 
officer of the household, formed the medium of communication 
between the King and his white prisoners ; but in the present 
instance, to give eclat to the message, greater etiquette was 
observed. Among the crowd which constituted the delegates, 
was our old acquaintance Zaudye, Shaka Ubye, Mahdera-Kal 
(formerly a pupil in the Malta Protestant College), and a host 
of high functionaries and attendants. Shaka Ubye, after 
making a scrutinizing survey to see that all the prisoners, in 
deference to royalty, had girded their sJiammas round the waist, 
in a calm and deliberate tone said : — "M.Bardel, Djan-hoi (the 
King) is angry with you because you have misrepresented the 
prisoners and caused him to chain them. You have also 
spoken ill of the Negus himself; and you have further, by 
unfounded assertions, tried to sow distrust and suspicion in 
his heart against your countrymen at GafFat." Mahdera-Kal, 
for the benefit of all, translated every word into French ; and 
the accused, without denying or admitting the charges, simply 
replied, " How, how ? " * 

This indirect apology for unmerited suiferings gave birth to 
fresh hopes of home and dear friends. Every hour now sped 
on heavily, and every messenger from the Europeans created 
a thrill of excitement. Day after day, however, was swallowed 
up in the relentless womb of time, and stiU the chains hung 
degradingly on our wrists. At last — I believe it was the 14th 
of February [1864] — Elad sent us word that all the employes 
and late prisoners were to set out for Gaftat. This was a severe 
blow to our expectations, though the excess of the disappoint- 
ment only acted as a tonic in stimulating the moral and 
physical energies of the soul to renewed courage and patience. 

* Should an explanation be required, the white employes at Gaffat 
(among whom is M. Bourgaud, a Frenchman, a friend of M. Bardel) 
will, as the King's confidants, be best able to furnish it. 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 1865. 361 

Consigned once more for an uncertain period to fetters and 
a prison, each one according to his peculiar taste sought some 
occupation to beguile the long hours of the almost never- 
ending days. The accession to our number introduced also 
new topics of conversation. Popery, scepticism, and infidelity 
formed the staple of our discussion during part of the day ; 
whilst, not unfrequently, our evenings were occupied in ex- 
plaining the tenets of oti* faith to the loquacious guards. 

On the 29th of February the King requested me through 
Samuel to show him a certain passage of Scripture. Samuel 
was exceedingly afi'able — a symptom by which we obtained a 
cue to the royal sentiments towards us. Our speculations that 
matters were again more promising were not unfounded ; for 
in the afternoon the royal favourite came back and released 
Rosenthal from his shackles, who now, together with his wife 
and babe, was permitted to enjoy the luxury of an unguarded 
tent ; whilst to us he held out the prospect of a speedy, happy 
change from prison to liberty. I had lost all confidence in 
his assertions — nay, invariably suspected that when he pro- 
mised us freedom (a fact now incontestably ascertained) he 
was toiling to efiect our destruction and death. 

A few weeks before Easter, His Majesty one noon requested 
that I should prove to him from the Bible that fasting was 
not a Divine injunction, nor necessary to salvation. I readily 
obeyed the mandate, and message after message was carried in 
rapid succession from the white men's prison to the royal 
pavilion. Not to prolong the discussion, which, on the part of 
His Majesty and court had degenerated into a challenge, I 
briefly observed that fasting, as a help to piety and devotion, 
was in harmony with the practice of the Apostles ; but such 
fasts, I added, were diflferent, nay, opposed Lo those enforced 
by the Church and designed to eff'ect a compromise between 
sin and good works, as was evident from Isaiah Iviii. This 
chapter His Majesty applied as a censure on his own actions ; 
and I might have had to pay dearly for my temerity, had not, 

2 B 2 


at tlie very moment wlicn a loud and ominous cry, rc-eelioed 
by scores of voices, "bring Cocab " {i.e. myself), a counter 
order of tau, "stop," arrested the dangerous command. 

This discussion, -whicli might have sadly terminated had not 
an invisible power restrained the ire of the King, created, as 
Ave were told, a variety of speculations in the army ; and it is 
very likely that the anticipations of an abridgment of Lent 
would not have been disappointed, hjnf not the Prophet Isaiah 
too unsparingly denounced injustice and oppression. 

Lent passed away, and so also Easter — the season of pardon 
and mercy to criminals not stained with blood ; and yet there 
was no indication that our fetters would be loosed or our 
imprisonment come to an end. 

And now winter, charged with storms, fogs, and cold, silently 
stole upon us. Inactivity, the gloom of an impending famine, 
and other serious causes, excited discontent in the pillage- 
loving army, and desertions were neither slow nor few. These 
symptoms of dissatisfaction among the wild hordes that con- 
stitute the army did not improve the irascible temper of the 
King ; and the formidable djiraf (a long whip) and the muti- 
lating knife were in constant requisition. On one day, within 
sight of our prison, forty persons had their hands and feet 
wrenched off, whilst many more perished under the inhuman 

On the 12th of May, a day which like one or two more will 
never be obliterated from my memory. His Majesty had a 
boisterous public interview with the Abuna or Primate. 
Epithets neither dignified nor apostolic were most profusely 
interchanged between the head of the State and the Euler of 
the Church. Once I audibly heard my name ; and two of my 
fellow-prisoners understood that it was coupled with the con- 
cealment of a curtain and taking of notes. Like a flash of 
lightning, it struck me that it must refer to a certain morning 
when Captain Cameron and myself arranged some money 
matters with the Bisho]). which malicious tongues in tliis 


country of inquisitorial espionage had viciously distorted into 
an unlawful secret communication. The altercation, which 
was occasionally very loud, and then again more subdued, 
lasted about an hour; and from the deep silence which per- 
vaded, it was evident that the army did not approve of the 
quarrel. His Majesty, weary with the contest, abruptly 
mounted his horse, and followed by a vast concourse daslu'd 
furiously across the plain. 

Conjecture was now rife among us about the probable issue 
of the dispute, in which one, if not more of us, were certainly 
involved. We were not long permitted to indulge in these 
gloomy musings ; the tramp of feet, the hum of numerous 
voices, and the tinkling of Church umbrellas, announced the 
approach of an extraordinary procession. Suddenly there was 
a rush of slaves through the palisaded doorway which led from 
the camping-ground of royalty to our prison, and then fol- 
lowed a mass of turbaued priests, proud chieftains, and high 
state functionaries. The Primate, clad in his simple Egyptian 
garb, with a black silk scarf negligently thrown over his head 
and face, led the van. There was a boisterous call for 
" Cocab " and the Frendjotj. Precipitately we rushed out of 
our tent, and in a most deferential attitude confronted this 
formidable array of Church and State dignitaries. 

The royal notary, a tall, sleek personage, now opened a 
small parcel, and, taking out a portfolio that once belonged 
to me, thrust his unwashen fingers into a packet of greasy 
papers, and took out the document that contained the charges, 
garbled from my pilfered notes, and the letter of Mr. Eosen- 
thal. These were then read, after which Samuel, in a bland 
persuasive strain, more entreated than commanded that we 
should state the parties who had been our inlbrmauts. Rosen- 
thal, who, as Samuel well knew, had had no communication with 
the Bishop, in a few brief sentences satisfied the inquisitor. 
Samuel now turned his villanous eouuteuance full upon me, 
and desired that 1 siiould state the sources from whence 


I had obtained the statements embodied in the books and 
papers found in my possession. Fully aware, from the cha- 
racter of the King, that the examination was a serious busi- 
ness, I turned to M. Bardel, and inquired whether he objected 
if I denied the correctness of the translations. M. Bardel 
rejoined, " No, for I only read the English ; Birru, Samuel, 
and the debteras (scribes) are responsible for the Amharic." 

Eelieved from tlie apprehension of implicating any other 
human being, and particularly a fellow-prisoner, in troubles of 
no ordinary gravity, I turned to Samuel, and in unsparing 
expressions deprecated the malice of those who, without any 
provocation, had sought my destruction by attributing to me 
language not to be found in my papers. 

Then addressing the whole assembly, I said, " What offence 
have I committed ? That I said the King had pillaged certain 
provinces was no libel, for I saw it myself. That I stated a 
number of people had been executed at Dubarek, the skulls 
scattered over the plain attest the fact. That I was misin- 
formed about His Majesty's descent, I must blame the late 
Mr. Bell, and the Negiis'a own speech at the capture of a 
chief*, recorded in the history of his accession to the throne, 
and at present in the possession of the King himself. That I 
was not impelled by any ill feeling towards the Negus, my 
bookf incontestibly proves; nay, the very mistake about his 
origin was an honour in Europe, since, beyond the great waters, 
not a man's glorious ancestry, but his own deeds shed lustre 
around his name. The Bishop," I continued, raising my 
dexter hand, " I honour as a friend ; and were he even my 
enemy, neither diversity in our religious sentiments, nor the 
dread of danger or the hope of favour, should make me swerve 
from the truth." 

Samuel now interposed, and hypocritically remarked, " We 
do not wish that you should utter a falsehood, nor does any one 

* [See page 118, ante.'] t ' AN'andcriugs among the Falashas.' 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 18G5. SGS 

feel disposed to contradict your assertion, that you had no de- 
sign to misrepresent the origin of the Negus ; but there are 
difierent ideas in Europe, America, and Asia; and this," he 
added emphatically, as if anxious by biting sarcasm to vent his 
stifling rage, " this, you know, is Africa." 

The Bishop, who during the whole of that time sat on the 
bare ground like an unconcerned spectator, now started up, 
and casting an oblique glance of sympathy towards his white 
friends, poured forth a torrent of abuse on the King and the 
whole army of sycophants who swarm around the throne. 

" Guards, receive your prisoners !" now^ shouted Samuel, and 
instantly we were driven into the tent, whilst the Primate and 
his cortege retraced their steps through the fence by which 
they had entered. 

The exciting conference acted like a tonic upon my weak, 
and by sickness enfeebled frame, and, without troubling myself 
about probability, I said, in a cheerful tone to my fellow 
prisoners, " I have hardly eluded the shafts of the Angel of 
Death when I must prepare for foot-chains." No one, I be- 
lieve, except myself, had any idea that a serious trial was 
impending over us. About sunset His Majesty came galloping 
over the plain, and bounding up to his pavilion; he had not 
yet alighted when M. Bardel, who was outside the tent, hurried 
quickly in, exclaiming, "the King is coming!" Bustle and 
confusion for a moment prevailed, and then aU was drowned in 
the shout, " Cocab, FrendjotjV The indignant and ven- 
geance-breathing accents of the King thrilled through my very 
soul like the knell of all my hopes. " Dog, Falasha, scoundrel, 
tell me the name of the man who reviled my ancestors, or I '11 
tear the secret out of your haiUnya " (stout) " heart !" vocife- 
rated the enraged Theodores. 

I attempted to reiterate what I had said to the delegates in 
the afternoon ; but ere I could finish a sentence, I was blinded 
with buffets, whilst at the same time several fellows violently 
seized me by the hand, and began to twist round my arms 


hard, coarse ropes, formed of the fibres of the Doloussa tree. 
Rosenthal, simultaneously with myself, experienced a similar 
treatment. His poor wife, thinking that our last moments had 
come, distractedly ran into the arms of Captain Cameron. 
The latter, who also believed that all were about to be 
butchered, called out to me, " Stern, we shall soon be in 
heaven!" This the Negus interpreted into an exhortation 
that I should not compromise the Prelate ; and instantly Mrs. 
Rosenthal, under a shower of blows, was driven with her 
babe into our tent and then into her own, whilst the Consul 
and all the other prisoners, with the exception of Mr. Keraus, 
who was suffering from illness, were thrown on the ground 
and pinioned. 

Generally, criminals under torture are only tied around the 
upper parts of the arm ; but the white miscreants were deemed 
unworthy of such leniency. From the shoulder down to the 
wrists the cords were fiendishly tight rolled around the un- 
resisting limb. This being still regarded as insufln.cient, the 
swollen, throbbing hands were bound together behind the back, 
and then other ropes were fastened across the chest, and that, 
too, with a force that caused the miserable sufferers to agonize 
for breath. "Writhing and quivering in every nerve, we lay in 
contortions heavings on the hard, bare ground. Some prayed ; 
others groaned ; here one in excruciating torments capered 
about ; there, another in desperate frenzy knocked his reclining 
head on a loose stone, as if determined to end by suicide his 
career of suffering. The crescent moon shining through a 
white canopy of clouds, the stiUness of the guards, broken by 
the howling of savage dogs as they careered in quest of prey 
through the camp, and the moans and sighs of the tortured, 
formed a scene that beggars language to describe. 

His Majesty, immediately on the application of the ropes, 
quitted the spot and repaired to his tent. Samuel, his face 
concealed under a black hood, every few minutes made his 
appearance, and inquired whether I would confess, and, on not 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 1865. 367 

receiving a satisfactory reply, whispered to the guards, " give 
him another rope round the chest." Three times he repeated 
his visits, and three times a couple of soldiers jumped on me, 
and with ardent delight, as if they felt pleasure in torturing a 
white man, executed the royal behest. To contract the dry 
ropes the black fiends now and then poured a profusion of 
cold water down our insensible backs. " Speak," once more 
repeated the muffled royal messenger — a command which 
Captain Cameron seconded by shouting, "Stern, Stern, say 
what you know !" 

The agonizing torture had now lasted about- three quarters 
of an hour, and still there was no sign that the tyrant would 
relent in his cruelty. Physically and mentally prostrated, the 
hand of faith, in the birth hours of eternity, held confidingly 
on the eternal rock, and prayerfully sighed for release from 
these earthly pangs and woes. The Negus probably suspecting 
that we should succumb beneath a protracted torture, and so 
elude the clutches of further revenge, now ordered the ropes 
to be removed. Promptly a score of blacks were bending over 
us and unfastening the cords. This process caused excru- 
ciating pain, for the ropes rebounding from the stiff marble 
limbs, tore away skin and flesh in broad gory shreds. 

Infidelity, scepticism, sneers, and scoffs ^'ere now all merged 
in one deep and pathetic crj- of anguish, fear, and despair. In 
compliance with the request of some of my fellow-sufterers, I 
poured forth the gushing emotions of my heart in a prayer, in 
which sorrow, sighing, trust, and confidence were sadly blended. 
Our guards, and every servant who on the approach of tlie 
King had decamped, now in a most sympathetic spirit, so cha- 
racteristic of the transient emotions of the barbarian and 
savage, rendered us every aid in their power. My own 
" Kuranyee," the man to whom I was chained, a kind Galla 
from Enarea, arranged the pallet on which I slept, and also 
gently swathed my wounded arms in the soft folds of the 


A harassing and anxious night was foDowed by a cheerless 
and desponding morning. Nervously we anticipated some 
new harrowing message from the King ; but to our delight he 
rode out, and the forenoon wore away iu silence and stoical 
apathy. Towards noon the chief of our guards came into our 
prison, and after some desultory remarks urged me to satisfy 
His Majesty. " Tell those who sent you," I returned, " that 
I have spoken the truth ; and if the Kiug does not believe me, 
I can swear on this book"* (the Bible, which I raised aloft 
with my palsied and swollen hand) " that the Bishop never 
spoke to me on the topic he wishes me to charge upon him." 
" Well," was the laconic retort ; " you will aU get ropes again, 
and that, too, much severer than last night." 

Uncertain about our fate, moments, miautes, and hours 
passed away in torturing suspense. Near evening Samuel, 
that messenger of evil, agaiu obtruded his hated person upon 
us. He crouched down near Captain Cameron, and with the 
utmost assiduity tended his wounds. His affability and con- 
descension emboldened me to ask him why the Negus, after 
granting me a fuU pardon, again revived the old affair. A 
withering scowl gathered over his brow at these words, and as 
if panting for breath he glared at me a few seconds, and then 
poured forth a volley of frightful abuse. " Dog," " Falasha," 
"rascal," &c., "how dare you criticise the King's actions, and 
obstinately defy his authority ? Look here and beliold the suf- 
ferings you have inflicted on your brethren. This is poor M. 
Bardel ; and do you know who lies here?" pointing to the 
Consul. " This is Victoria!" 

Shattered and prostrate as I was, my whole frame shook and 
trembled at this unmerited rebuke. Samuel I think noticed 
this, and bending down to me he whispered confidentially, 
" Come out, I want to speak to you." Once in the open air, 

* It did not then occur to me that the only binding obligation in 
Abyssinia is an oath " by the death of the King," or the excommuni- 
cation of the Abuna. 


the raging courtier subsided into the smooth flattering knave. 
Placing his hand affectionately on my aching shoulder, he said, 
" Don't think that I am angry with you ; on the contrary, I 
admire you ; but what possesses you that for the sake of the 
Bishop, who is neither your countryman nor one of your belief, 
you incur the wrath of the King, and expose your person to 
suffering. He is my Abiina (he forgot that he had often told 
me he was a Protestant), but you are my friend ; and I don't care 
what happens to him if you only (whose money I have eaten), 
by obligiug the Negus, win honour and favours." I shook my 
head, and the foiled inquisitor hastened away, muttering no very 
charitable benison on my devoted head. 

The shades of night had by this time gathered dark and 
thick around us. Tlie guards took their station ; and the white 
prisoners, after committing themselves to the guardian care of 
a Divine Protector, composed themselves to uneasy slumbers. 
The sudden whisper of voices and the sound of approaching 
steps made us start from our leather skins. "Cocab!" 
" Rosenthal !" "Makerer!" roared several voices at once. 
Leaping mechanically on our feet, we were in an instant out of 
the tent. Several dark figures in a trice encompassed me, and 
with ruthless fury dashed their horny hands in my eyes and 
face. Blow after blow in quick succession descended stun- 
ningly upon me, whilst at the same time the ropes were rapidly 
rolled around my wounded and lacerated arms. "Tie his 
legs, too, if he does not confess"* rang in deep but distinct 
accents from the royal pavilion, and was re-echoed from three 
other lungs who stood in measvired distances to send back my 

My eyes, dimmed by buffets, started almost out of their 
sockets, my veins began to swell, my nerves throbbed as if they 
would burst ; and my heart, compressed by the inhuman tight- 
ness of the ropes, almost stopped its pulsations. Despairingly 

* This fiendish de\ace, which entirely arrests the circulation of the 
blood, few persons can long resist without succumbing. 



I raised my inflamed eyes towards heaven, and prayed that 
the bitter cup might either pass away from me, or if I was 
to drain it to the dregs, that the agony might not be pro- 

My head now became dizzy, the cold perspiration coursed 
down my quivering frame, I felt confused, giddy, and mad. 
"Samuel, Samuel!" I shrieked in frenzied agony, " What do 
you want, what do you want ?" " Tell the Negiis all you have 
been told by the Abuna," was his calm response. " Oh ! my 
God! my Grod !" I mentally ejaculated, have I still longer to 
endure this wasting martyrdom, and seized by a fit of delirium 
I vociferated in a hoarse, sufibcating voice, " Yes ! the Abiina 
often told me that the King was more dreaded, and possessed 
more power than any of the former sovereigns of Ethiopia, 
but that his ambition and cruelty ruined and depopulated the 
country." " Untie the ropes," reverberated far above the 
cooling breeze, as it swept in refreshing gusts over the torn 
and bleeding limbs of the sufferer ; " untie the ropes, and ask 
him if he is not a merchant of insects"*. I hesitated to affirm 
this palpable falsehood ; but Samuel with clenched teeth 
muttered, " Dog, do you want a fresh trial of the ropes? " Again 
roared in succession the invisible voice, accompanied by a slap 
in my face from the chief jailer, " ask him whether the ladies 
in England do not eat rats and mice." Promptly my inter- 
rogator, who evidently now pitied me, responded " Yes." 
" Ask him whether the Queen of England does not sell thread, 
needles, and tobacco at Massowah ?" returned the dismal echo ; 
and before the sound had died away, there was a wild merry 
shout, accompanied by the gay chuckle of some of the royal 
ladies. " Ask him whether it is lawful for an Abiina to com- 
mit "f. Erantic and almost raving, I vehemently roared 

out " No ! no!" The ropes were now entirely removed from 

* I had a beautiful collection of insects, and rare, valuable manu- 
scripts, which of course were confiscated by the King, 
t Not to sully these pages I omit the rest of the query. 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAfiDALA, AUGUST 9tH^ 1805. 371 

1110, and also from Rosenthal, wliom, contrary to orders, the 
guards in the exuberance of their zeal, had also tied ; and poor 
M. Makerer was questioned about certain language insidious 
malice reported that he had uttered at Massowah. 

Elated with his success, although it must have been obvious 
to every rational being that I could not have been for days and 
days the guest of the Primate, without conversing on the pillage 
of different provinces, among which Djenda, the domain of the 
Metropolitan, formed no exception, yet, as he had gained his 
object, in the flash of delight he ordered a liberal supper of 
bread, hydromel, and potent (Iraki for his wretched victims. 
Supported by two blacks, I tottered back into my tent, where 
I sank down, more dead than alive, on my painful couch. Im- 
mediately on my entrance. Captain Cameron, in that perfect 
absence of mind by which all the events of the outer world are 
excluded, abruptly called across the tent, " Stern, please throw 
me over the tobacco pouch." An 9. he might have added, a star, 
or the crescent moon to light his pipe ; for the one would have 
been as possible for me as the other. 

Samuel, accompanied by a Galla slave, charged with a 
formidable horn of strong draki, after about half an hour's 
interval, stumbled into our tent ; he had evidently fortified 
himself, after the previous toils, by a few herrilles, or bottles of 
old hydromel. And now some glasses more of ardent spirits 
wonderfully stimulated his garrulity. Tlie region of the lost 
could alone have equalled the revolting sight presented at 
that moment by our prison. There, guarded by a band of dark 
savages, and chained like untamed beasts, are crowded together 
in a tattered tent, a party of white captives, in whose de- 
sponding forlorn looks sorrow and suffering, trouble and care, 
have written their indelible lines. In the centre of their frail 
tenement, squat several ragged savages around a flickering, 
unsteady taper, with their dilated optics wistfully directed to 
the operations of a smooth-faced Galla lad, who is pouring out 
of a gigantic horn a strong smelling liquid. A grinning figure, 


girded to the waist, receives the cup, and hands it, bowing 
obsequiously, to the criminals, who in formal etiquette quaff 
the potent draught. This is a faint, and indeed only a faint, 
outliue of the picture we then formed. 

As I could not move, Samuel, with great tenderness, held 
the cup to my fevered lips, and in a sympathetic tone said, 
"Drink, if only a few drops, to evince your regard for the 
King." Covered with bruises, sores, and scars, I did not 
know how to lie or sit, without enduring the most excruciating 
tortures. Some one proposed that we shoidd take opium, and 
thus elude the tyranny of the despot, and close our career of 
misery. My giddy and whirling brain rapturously caught the 
suggestion ; and had my fingers been able to perform their 
wonted functions, I should, unless a gracious Providence had 
restrained me, have opened my small basket, and in the frenzy 
of the moment partaken with some or all my fellow-sufferers 
of the fatal drug. Mrs. Rosenthal had a similar craving for 
laudanum ; and, as she afterwards told me, she considered it 
quite a mercy that the dangerous phial was not within her 
reach, as in the complete prostration of mind and body she 
might have terminated her own and her poor babe's trouble- 
some existence. Somnolency, that angel of pity, gradually 
closed our eyes, and in a state of dreamy stupefaction the night 
glided away. At davni, the sinister visage of Samuel appeared 
at the door of our tent. " Cocab," he commenced, in a hollow, 
sepulchral voice, to which the previous night's debauch, more 
than the message of evil he was about to deliver, imparted a 
fearful solemnity — " Cocab, His Majesty knows that you are not 
afraid to die ; but don't think that he intends to kill you ; on 
the contrary, he will preserve your life, and torture you till the 
flesh rots on your bones." "That this," continued the trucu- 
lent delegate, " is not a vague threat, the last two nights and 
many similar ones still in reserve will prove. Do, therefore, 

satisfy the Negus, or, by , those ropes will anon extort by 

force what you now deny as a favour." 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, AUGUST 9tH, 1865. 373 

The sight of the torturing instruments, which lay in a heap 
in a comer of our tent, caused a dizziness in my head ; and, 
raising my racking frame, I said, " Samuel, I told you last 
night my conversation with the Bishop ; and if that does not 
satisfy you, God's will be done : I won't tell a lie." The im- 
placable inquisitor, touched by my sufferings, paused a moment, 
and then resumed once more, " Let us admit that the Bishop 
did not furnish you with the false account of His Majesty's 
lineage ; still, as he has proofs, you will never persuade him 
tbat the statement did not emanate from some of his priests or 

I now recollected that one of the Abiina's shums (stewards) 
whom I then thought safe at Massowah or in Egypt, where, 
for aught I know, he may now also roam about, had many a 
time amused me by giving episodes out of the history of the 
Negus. And as evil tongues might have repeated these de- 
sultory conversations, I said " Grebra Egziabher frequently 
spoke to me about the exploits of the King, and at my request 
also gave me some of the particulars relative to his birth and 
education. But never did he utter a word to depreciate His 
Majesty ; for he knew that in Egypt and Europe, where he had 
been, a man was respected on account of his actions, and not 
on account of his origiu." " I will report this to Negus," was 
his laconic reply. 

Slowly the weary hours of terror and dread rolled on. Our 
nerves were horribly shattered, and our minds too would have 
been unhinged, had not religion, with her solacing influence, 
smoothed the asperities and hardships of our existence. The 
Bible, prayers, a morning and evening exposition of an appro- 
priate passage, were the exercises in which we regularly 
engaged. No bitter gibes, no harsh expression, no impure 
language, characterized our intercourse ; religion formed a 
wonderful bond of harmony ; and when I looked on the devout 
countenances that then hung over the inspired page as I com- 
mented on the selected text, I cherished the hope that the 


clouds so big with wrath had been charged witli a flood of ever- 
lasting mercy. 

Our affairs, to our infinite satisfaction, suddenly ceased to 
occupy the royal mind, and few incidents occurred to interrupt 
our melancholy tranquillity. One afternoon there was a sup- 
pressed cry, "the King, the King;" which caused quite a 
panic in our tent. His Majesty, accompanied by a shield- 
bearer, it is true, had strayed on our prison premises, but for 
what purpose remains a mystery to this day. On another 
occasion Basha Engeda, on the guards being changed, pointed 
me out as a special object of interest — a distinction which, 
under existing circumstances, I did not much admire. An 
apparent peace between the Negus and the Primate also gave 
rise to various conjectures among the prisoners. 

One evening a young lad in the service of the Consul, who, 
together with other servants, had again returned to his master, 
crept down near me and adroitly conveyed a small piece of 
paper into my dead and feelingless hand. I hastily put it into 
my Bible, thinking it was a letter from Mr. Flad — a mistake 
which the Arabic character soon exposed. The note was from 
the Bishop, and commenced — " To my Brother in Christ, ser- 
vant to the Prophets and Apostles," &c. &c. It then adverted 
to the suiferings all, and especially myself, had endured, on his 
account, and, quoting certain appropriate passages of Scripture, 
it concluded abruptly with a remark about money. 

By the dim glimmer of the guards' light, it occurred to me 
that the Abuna expected that ere long I shovild have to endure 
a fresh ordeal of the Negus's retributive vengeance, and that, 
doubtful about the issue, he wanted me to send him an order for 
the money I owed him. This warning, for such my unhinged 
imagination fancied it to be, gave me a momentary shock, and, 
grasping the ill-boding missive between my numbed fingers, I 
held it clandestinely to the light, and to my satisfaction disco- 
vered that, instead of an order for the money I had borrowed, 
it was a generous off'er to advance me more. 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAODALA, AUGUST 9tH, 1805. JJ?.") 

This incident, trifling as it may seem, inspired me and alno 
my fellow-prisonei's witli a vague hope that in the reconcilia- 
tion with the Abuna our own affiiirs might receive a just and 
honest consideration — an anticipation that Avould not have 
been disappointed, had the pride of the suspicious and offended 
monarch been pacified by the timely arrival of the still 
expected letter from Her Majesty. Samuel no longer ob- 
truded his undesirable presence upon us. Once he brought 
some Italian medals and mathematical measuring instruments 
into the tent of Rosenthal, and requested to know their use. 
Rosenthal advised him to ask me, upon which he returned in a 
petulant tone, " always Cocab ! " 

The attitude in which I am compelled to carry on my 
clandestine correspondence is most painful. Bent double by 
manacles about three-eighths of a yard long between the 
ankles, linked to another a few inches shorter to the right- 
hand wrist, I crouch down with the paper half-concealed in my 
lap, and scribble away. The posture is not adapted to make 
the pen run easily ; but this is of no consequence, the occupa- 
tion dispels, for at least a few hours, the gloomy reveries in 
wdiich my mind unwillingly indulges, and furnishes you and 
my friends with a faithful outline of my own and my fellow- 
prisoners' sad history ; and this amply compensates for the 
pain which the task inflicts on my chaiii-crippled frame. 

November 1, 1865. 
The Abyssinian winter, accompanied by storms, rain, fogs, 
cold, and all sorts of other discomforts, had now fairly set in. 
Almost every noon, the sky became darkened ; and lowering 
clouds, amidst the reverberations of thunder, poured down de- 
luging floods ; our frail cotton tent, which had already for 
more than four months resisted the wear and tear of guards 
and prisoners, sun and wdnd, notwithstanding the patching of 
Pietro and Makerer's skill, admitting the pelting torrent. 
During the day the horrors of the tempest were still mitigated 




by the scanty coverings in which each one could muffle up his 
shivering frame ; but by night, when wedged between suspi- 
cious guards, who tremblingly rose at the slightest clang of the 
heavy chains, one was forced positively to press the cold earth 
as one's couch. The King, two or three times in riding out, 
gave a musing glance across our fence, which led us to antici- 
pate that our wretched apology for a shelter would soon be ex- 
changed for some more substantial covering — an expectation 
that was never destined to be realized. Condemned to wet 
and filth, our misery was intensified by the foul aroma of the 
coarse guards, who in crowds obtruded their offensive persons 
upon us. Goaded to desperation, we sent one afternoon to 
Samuel, and reqiiested him to regulate the watch. Samuel men- 
tioned it to the King ; and the reply was, " If they don't like to 
come in contact with my people, give tbem foot-chains, and let 
only two soldiers watch in the tent." This unexpected inflic- 
tion of fresh suffering gave us an unmistakeable clue to his 
Majesty's sentiments towards us ; but without allowing such 
an ebullition of hatred to depress our spirits, we determined 
henceforth passively to endure every hardship that might still 

fall to our lot 

That terrible scourge, the small-pox, which had already for 
more than six weeks ravaged the camp, in the absence of every 
precaution to arrest its progress, spread with increased viru- 
lence through the crowded lines of tents, hurrying promis- 
cuously men, women, and children to an untimely grave. An 
incipient famine accelerated its devastations, and multiplied 
the funeral processions, which, amidst the melancholy chants 
of priests and the wail of mourners, everywhere traversed the 
gloomy camp. His Majesty, to dissipate the panic which pre- 
vailed through the thinning ranks of the army, interdicted the 
usual lamentations for the dead ; but the voice of nature coidd 
not be stifled by royal edicts ; so in defiance of the stick and 
the whip, the shrieks and lamentations of the bereaved rang all 
nijrht in wild cadences over hill and dale. 


Prompted by sanitary motives, ou July 5tli the camp was 
removed to Assoaso, about six miles W.S.W. from Gondar. To 
our surprise we received no official intimation that we were to 
change our abode ; and it was quite a relief to our eyes to gaze 
on the stockaded acclivity above our prison, without the trial of 
beholding the despot or his myrmidons. Ou the Gth of July, 
towards evening, Basha Deresa, the commander of the fusi- 
liers, paid VIS a visit, and ordered our foot-chains to be removed 
from the hand-chains : the operation of unrivetting the massive 
irons required the efforts of eight powerful savages ; and even 
these had to exert their whole strength to accomplish the one- 
rous work. "We were immediately linked together in pairs by 
shackles fastened round the wrists. The wonted insolence of 
the conceited Ethiop, which had been often enough exhibited 
towards us, was on the present occasion not omitted ; and many 
a vile sarcasm during the hammering of the iron was expended 
on the defenceless white prisoners. 

On the following morning a formidable guard came to escort 
us to the camp. Captain Cameron, and myself, who at our 
own option were chained together, formed the most unhappy 
pair for the ride. Enervated by suffering and sickness, I was 
in no condition to manage the young and untrained mule 
which I received orders to mount : nor was my companion, 
whose nerves and mind were dreadfully shaken, better fitted 

for the novel exercise 

On arriving at the camp we were conducted up a rugged 
ascent, on the summit of which, exposed to the cool and re- 
freshing breeze, stood the royal tents. A strong palisaded en- 
closure defended every encroachment on this forbidden ground. 
We w^ere ordered to alight close to the rigorously guarded 
entrance, where, together with hundreds of deserters, thieves, 
murderers, and other low criminals, we had to await the man- 
date for our location. At last the order came that we were to 
march to the front of the camp, occupied by tlie chief of the 
fusiliers. Ever since the imprisonment of the Consul we 

2 c 2 


always had a spot for our tent within the royal fence ; but as 
each indignity to the detested Frendjotj was supposed to en- 
hance the glory of the despot and the lustre of his name, we 
were no longer deemed worthy to enjoy tlie not very enviable 
distinction conferred on the more exalted native offenders. Our 
fragile prison, which the journey had not improved, was at last, 
with difficulties that appeared almost insurmountable, lashed 
to the pole, and then to secure this unsafe abode an impassable 
thorn fence was raised around it. All the other prisoners, 
above three hundred in number, among whom there were not 
a few who had more to deplore the caprice of the law than the 
perpetration of crime, were shut up in an enclosure separated 
from ourselves by a thin acacia partition 

On August 19th, 1864, we heard that the long-expected let- 
ter from Her Majesty had at length arrived, and that the Ne- 
giis had sent for the Europeans at Gaffat ; then again we were 
told that the order had been countermanded, and again that 
they were on the road. These contradictory rumours were not 
quite unfounded. A letter, it is true, had arrived from the 
coast, but it was not the document the King expected ; and 
the Graffat employes had also been desired to come to the camp 
and settle our affairs ; but the vacillating tyrant, probably at 
the instigation of Samuel, once more abandoned his generous 

Gondar, the capital of Abyssinia, owing to its sympathies with 
rebels, never enjoyed the particular good graces of the Monarch. 
The population, confiding in the number of their churches and 
the wealth of its merchants, quaffed their hydromel and in- 
dulged their vicious passions in heedless security. Their fatal 
dream of undisturbed repose was, however, destined to expe- 
rience a grievous reverse. A complaint that the bread and 
meat provided by the town were bad in quality and limited in 
([iianiity, afforded the Negus a favourable opportunity to satisfy 
his long cherished resentment. An exorbitant fine was im- 
mediately imposed on the mistaken inhabitants ; and on meet- 

MR. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, NOV. IsT, 18G5. 379 

ing with a slight opposition to his ruinous demand, the whip and 
rope were energetically used to enforce compliance. Despoiled 
and pillaged, the wretched populace deceived themselves \\ ith 
the illusive hope that the heaviest calamity was past ; but they 
had not yet sounded the depth of their Sovereign's vengeance, 
and only felt its full weight when they saw their homes on fire 
and demolished by the devouring flames. The old metropolis, 
with the exception of the churches, being reduced to ashes, 
his Majesty, to perpetuate his Neronian achievement on a 
miniature scale, proclaimed Assosso the new capital of the 
empire. To outdo his predecessors, all sorts of grand plans 
were projected to embellish the royal city. Churches, palaces, 
workshops and gardens, vying with each other in matchless 
splendour, had already assigned to them their appropriate 
spots. These imaginary schemes occupied the dull princes of 
the whole army, and led every one to believe that the camp 
would remain stationary for many months to come. Sur- 
rounded by everything revolting, we still preferred our offen- 
sive prison to travelling in chains. Unexpectedly, about the 
beginning of September 1864, the vision of a new capital, 
which had for some time delighted the ragged hordes, was 

abandoned, and the camp removed to Shangarou 

On the 17th the imperial blacksmith, accompanied by a 
score of menials, came to relieve us of our foot-chains. As 
we were to start the same forenoon, celerity was indispensable ; 
and the important functionary, assisted by his servile sub- 
ordinates, manipulated most dexterously the chains on our 
legs and arms to accomplish his task. Shackled in couples, 
however, round our wrists, and guarded by a band of armed 
fusiliers, we were now led out of the narrow enclosure, in which 
we had been closely confined for more than two months. The 
King, more intent on torturing than on destroying the hated 
and envied Frendjotj, had given orders that we should be 
provided with mules ; but the escort, being well aware that 
prisoners are not objects of much consideration, did not teel 


disposed to comply witli this high behest. The ride from 
Gondar to Assosso had not increased our zest for bestriding 
a mule in fetters ; and, at my suggestion, all except Mrs. Eo- 
senthal, who had a baby in her arms, consented to test the 
strength of their legs 

It was said, and the rumour was also true, that His Ma- 
jesty, on coming together with his European employes, would 
finish our business, and either aUow us to leave the country 
or else keep us at Gaft'at. The capricious tyrant this time would 
have kept his word, had not Mr. Samuel, that compound of 
malice, hatred, and cunning, by crafty insinuations and po- 
sitive lies (as we know for certain), neutralized his master's 
designs. "We remained at Sergu from September 23rd to Oc- 
tober 14th, and then set forward again. The journey from this 
to the capital of Begamider took vis fifteen days, of which three 
only were spent in actvial travelling 

On reaching Debra Tabor, we expected that a messenger 
from Gaffat would meet us ; but in vain we wistfully strained 
our eyes in all directions to discover the face of a known 
servant or the white countenance of a Frendji. Probably 
the majority, if not all, would have gladly come to see us, had 
they not dreaded the cruel tyrant, whose proximity damps, if 
it does not entirely extinguish, every feeling of sympathy to- 
wards those who have incurred his displeasure. As we did 
not obtain unsolicited intelligence from our friends, who were 
located about two miles' walk from our resting-place, we sent 
one of our servants for that purpose to Mr. Flad. The messenger 
returned in the evening loaded with potatoes, bread, milk, and 
a small note, which contained the tantalizing news that His 
Majesty, during the two or three conferences with the Gaffat 
Avhite workmen, had always carefully avoided alluding to our 
afiairs. Once, during a subsequent interview, Mr. Waldmeier 
ventured to advert to our position ; but the Negus did not 
deign to notice his remark on that disagreeable topic. Several 
days (ah ! several centuries !) of heart-burning suspense had 

MK. stern's letter FROM MAGDALA, NOV. IsT^ 18G5. .'381 

already elapsed, and still there was no other amelioration of 
our condition beyond that we had an ample supply of whole- 
some food from our friends. 

About the 29th of October we were informed that the King, 
being moved by the potent hydromel and draki of his foreign 
employes *, had, in a fit of magnanimity, urged them to solicit 

* [After having sent to the printer the MS. of what is printed above, 
and whilst correcting for the press that portion of my work (page 
2G1) in which I have referred to the present note (not having been 
able to insert it there), I saw in the ' xVthenteimi ' of November 10th 
a notice of the following work recently published by the Early Eng- 
lish Text Society : — " The Book of Quinte Essence, or the Fifth Being, 
that is to say, Man's Heaven. Edited by F. J. Furnivall." 

I have not seen this curious work ; but the following notice of its 
contents, taken verbatim et literatim from the columns of the ' Athe- 
naeum,' will fully serve the purpose for which 1 now refer to it : — 

" ' The Book of Quinte Essence ' is described as ' a treatise in Eng- 
lish, briefly drawn out of the book of quintessence, in Latin, that 
Hermes the prophet and King of Egypt, after the flood of Noah, father 
of philosophers, had, by the revelations of an angel of God, to him 
sent.' Mr. Furnivall himself says, * This tract appears to be a great 
fuss about Spirits of Wine, how to make it, and get more or less tipsy 
on it, and what wonders it will work, from making old men young 
and dying men well, to killing lice.' The compoimder states that his 
mixtm-e is the burning water, aqua vitcs, or, according to the name by 
which philosophers keep its character secret, quintessence. It is re- 
conmiended as a panacea that will overcome Death himself, always 
excepting that the patient has reached ' the term that is set of God 
that no man may escape ' — a saving clause of an early quack charac- 
ter. It is also to be observed that this spirit, for those who lack jol- 
lity or medicine, for those who prefer to take it under the plea of lack 
of health, is intended by the inventor only for ' evangelic men.' This 
inventor, horrified at the idea of the secret getting into the possession 
of sick tyrants, who, by its use, may regain their lost vigour, recom- 
mends it to the keeping of Christ. Thus, the tipplers who quailed 
their walnut-shell or their egg-shell fidl, might measure their riglit- 
eousness by the amount of their exhilaration. The author of ' The 
Book of Quinte Essence ' shows how life may be rendered physically 
joyful; its date is of the fifteenth century; and men learned therein 
how they might be cured of every disease except hereditary leprosy." 


any favour they would, and that, if it were not his throne or his 
crown, it should be granted, even if it were for the liberation of 
the European prisoners. Acting on a Scriptural precedent, our 

As it was in Europe in the middle ages, so it is at the present day 
in Abyssinia, where the art of distillation is unknown ; and hence it 
may be understood how great is the importance of persons who, like 
the Emperor's European workmen, can distil spirits. To that monarch, 
whose habits of intemperance are notorious, they must have become a 

I do not make this remark in any unkind spirit, as Mr. Layard did 
when speaking in the House of Commons of the Basle Missionaries as 
"trading- in brandy" (see page 110). Even supposing they did so, 
there would be nothing incompatible in their making, or even selling, 
honey-wine (hydromel), beer, and spirits. We have at home men 
of unquestionable piety and goodness, who are brewers, distillers, and 
wine-merchants. But, from an expression in a letter from INIr. Stern 
to his wife dated Magdala, August 2oth, 1866, just received, it would 
seem that the spirits are made onh^ for the Emperor's private use. 
He says, " like the rest of our fellow-prisoners, we drank his health in 
good drald provided for that purpose from the royal distillery." 

Theodore's failing in this respect is no new matter. As long ago as 
the year 1853, Baron Theodore von Heuglin described him as " a hard 
fighter and a hard drinker." (" Ein tapferer Kfimpe in der Feldschlacht 
und hinter dem Tedsch-Becher." — Reisen in Nonl-Ost-Afrika, p. 45.) 
This was before he became Emperor, at which time I was in Mauri- 
tius, where my Abyssinian servants gave me strange descriptions of 
his excesses and of their consequences. Whether after his accession 
he reformed in this respect as in others, Mr. Plowden has not said in 
his report (see page 35) ; but if he did, it can only have been for a 
short time. I remember having shipped to Aden sundry cases of 
"Vermouth" for the private use of his Imperial Majesty, and 1 am 
afraid that the habit has now become inveterate. It will have been 
seen that most of the acts of violence perpetrated on Mr. Stern and the 
other captives have occurred in the evening, after the Emperor had 
been carousing (see pages 113, 140, 365, 369). If, as his panegp-ist 
Mr. Plowden admits, one of the " worse points in his character " was 
" his violent anger at times " (Joe. cit.), even at the most favourable 
period of his career when all was prosperous, how must it be when 
inflamed by drink, now that his temper has become soured by re- 
verses and disappointments! C.B.]. 

MA. STEKn's letter FROM MAGDALA, NOV, IsT, 18G5. 38.'5 

friends (I suppose) merely expressed their deli^'ht at enjoying 
the royal countenance and favour. Two evenings after tlie 
above, His Majesty again drained a good number of herilles 
(bottles) of the Frendjotfs generous brew, and, once more ex- 
hilarated by the excellent beverage, repeated the former re- 
quest a little more urgently. This time they vpere more bold, 
or thought the moment more opportune to intercede in behalf 
of our freedom. The request was instantly granted, and all 
were to be released from their chains, except the Frenchmen 
Bardel and Makerer. 

This was about the beginning of November, 1864 ; on the 
5th of the same month the cheering tidings were commu- 
nicated to us that Kantiba Hailu, the late Governor of Gon- 
dar, a man highly esteemed by the King and the European 
workmen, had received orders to proceed to the camp, and to 
conduct us and our French fellow-sufferers, free from fetters, 
to a new home in the vicinity of our countrymen. "We were 
already in spirit revelling in the luxury of unshackled limbs, 
when, at the very moment we expected to hear the tramp of 
our friends' mules and to grasp their extended hands, one 
messenger followed by another came to announce that the 
humane intentions of His Majesty had been defeated by a 
report of Samuel, confirmed by Dedjatj Bariau, the Governor 
of Tigre, that a British general and troops had landed at Mas- 
sowah, and that another great man (whether French or Eng- 
lish, was not stated) had also arrived in Sennaar, and that 
both publicly declared they were determined to move to- 
wards Abyssinia, to effect our deliverance either by media- 
tion or by force of arms. This unexpected blight of our fond 
anticipations came upon us like a thunder-clap ; but the mind, 
when pressed down by a succession of calamities, either be- 
comes callous and apathetic, or tries to gain calmness and 
comfort to the troubled heart in prayer and the promises of 
the inspired page 

On November 7th I got a note from Mr. Flad, which con- 


tained the dreaded intelligeuce that we were the next day to 
be carried to Magdala, the penal settlement of the Negusa 

Negest, King of Kings On the 8th we quitted Debra 

Tabor, the goal where we confidently imagined that our ma- 
nacles would be removed and our captivity terminate. Our 
first resting-place was San M3'eda, the spot where the late 
Coptic Patriarch, the Ambassador of the Viceroy of Egypt, 
was incarcerated by the artful barbarian, whose smiles and 

sua\dty ought never to have duped a white man 

Our party, which since we left Begamider had consider- 
ably increased, did not much tend to beguile the fatigue and 
toil of the route. About a dozen criminals, almost all of 
whom were in puris naturalibus, or nearly so, with long heavy 
wooden yokes round their necks, were not exactly the com- 
panions that Europeans in Africa, even in the greatest emer- 
gency, would ever dream of being obliged to have for daily 
associates, although Ave might pity their forlorn condition ; 
but the mighty name of Britain, respected as it is throughout 
the universe, is no palladium to travellers, missionaries, or a 
Consul, in the powerful realm of the boasted descendant of 

Solomon Many a sinister black visage was turned 

upon us, and many an ill-boding sentence was uttered against 
us, as we were driven through a narrow gap up the dreaded 
Amba. That his Majesty had been bragging about his Eu- 
ropean captives was evident from the deportment of the wild 
hordes ; and this idea, which was uppermost in the mind of a 
few of us, did not tend to soothe the agony of the lacerated. 
Gasping and panting, we at length emerged out of a rude, 
strong gateway on the summit of the Amba. Again a sliort 
halt was ordered, and then once more all hurried forward to- 
wards a collection of sugar-loaf-shaped huts — the dwellings of 
his Majesty's court *. All in a twinkling lay prostrate in the 

* [A description of Amba Magdala, where the captives remained 
confined till February 24th, 180G, and whither they have again been 
taken, together with Mr. Kassani and his suite, is given iu page 144. 
— C. B.] 

MR. STEKN's letter FROM MAGDALA, NOV. IsT, 18G5. 385 

dust; but the profound obeisance, instead of meetiuf a re- 
sponse, remained unnoticed amidst tbe boisterous shouts for 
draki. The malefactors and their servile guards paused; 
but, as the Negus was indulging in his orgies, we were driven 
on to our home — the prison. 

From Mr. Rosenthal. 

End of April, 18G5. 

Tou will no doubt within a short time hear of the letter of 
the Eev. H, A, Stern, in which he gives a sketch of the 
suiferings we have had to undergo since our arrival in this 
country, with the circumstances which accelerated them, in 
order to prevent ill-disposed persons from misconstruing his 
course of action here. Although the history of his suft'ei-iugs 
comprises that of my own, with the exception of the beating 
which he received at first, yet, as Mrs. E. and the child shared 
our lot in part on the one hand, and were separated from me 
for about two months on the other, during which period I 
neither saw nor heard from them, you can easily imagine that 
these additional bereavements greatly contributed to my own 

.... I only add a few things which concern more especially 
Mrs. E. and myself, as Mr. Stern has wTitten all concerning 
himself to the time of my seizure and our imprisonment 
together. From that period our lot was one, so that I can 
safely refer you to his letter. After the imprisonment of 
Mr. Stern, I was in continual fear lest something untoward 
shoidd happen to me, because I gave to him some letters to for- 
ward, one a missionary report to the Society, also to several 
friends delineations of the character and prospects of our work, 
to interest them in the same ; and one was descriptive of our 
journey from the coast to the interior, and a six months' resi- 
dence in this country, to which some personal remarks were 
added ; these were among his seized papers. 


Our anxiety was only too soon verified by the event. "We 
were taken prisoners on the fifth of November, 1863. Our 
animals, grain (stored up for the next six months), clothes, 
books, medicine, money — in fact, all we possessed was seized, 
and we were for the next three days subjected to a series of 
insults, inconveniences, and wants in our house, and our ser- 
vants were compelled to grind and bake day and night. In 
spite of this we were nearly starving for lack of bread. Some 
time after this event the personal eff'ects of Mrs. E. were 
returned, but only to be retaken subsequently and finally ; and 
she and our child were left entirely destitute of clothing. 

When we arrived at Gondar, I was chained hand and foot, 
and put in a separate tent from that of Mrs. E.. Both were 
filled with soldiers to excess. Mrs. E. was actually obliged to 
beg and cry to have permission for two female servants to sleep 
by her side. On the Friday following my fetters were re- 
moved, and I joyfully anticipated entire release ; but, imagine 
my surprise and disappointment when, instead of that, I was 
brought before a gorgeous assembled multitude to be judged. 
Mr. Stern and myself were both condemned to death according 
to the dictates of the Fetha Negast, a book firmly believed by 
the Abyssinians to be of Divine origin ; and although I re- 
peatedly begged for mercy during the examinations, I only 
received the answer to reply to the questions put to me. We 
both made one more attempt to be heard, Mr. S. in Arabic, 
and myself in Amharic ; but were simply told, " luckra'''' (to- 
morrow). During the trial two different soldiers, holding my 
chains, fell down at my side, and were carried ofi" like corpses. 

We were now confined to the same tent, and hand and foot- 
irons were put on in such a manner that we could not stand 
upright. My fetters were of a specially cruel construction. 
Usually the manacles are separated by two or three links of 
chain ; mine, however, constantly kept my feet within one- 
eighth of an inch close together ; and when I desired to 
move I was obliged to crawl upon both hands and feet. These 
are designated " slave-irons." 


I omit the intervening time that elapsed until the chaining 
of the Consul and the other Europeans. Mr. Stern's and my 
condition were a little ameliorated before that proceeding ; but 
what Mrs. Flad, Mrs. E., and the poor children suffered in Gron- 
dar during the 3rd of January, 1864, and the two following 
days, baffles description. They were maltreated, received the 
most abusive language, and were deprived of food. In their 
extremity, Mrs. E. opened the Bible at random, and her eves 
fell upon the composing words of Joseph to his brethren — 
" Fear not ; I will nourish you and your little ones." God did 
bless the supply of Mrs. E.'s nourishment, so that she kept the 
two poor babes, ours and Mrs. Flad's, for three days from 
famishing. They were, however, soon brought to the camp, 
and at the end of January permitted to visit us. O, my G-od ! 
what a meeting was this of mine with my poor wife and child, 
after two months' separation under such trying circum- 
stances ! 

I pass over the liberation of the German missionaries, a pain- 
ful illness aud operation of Mrs. E., and a dangerous fever of 
the child, aud come to Sunday, February 29th. On tliat day 
the King asked something of Mr. Stern in reference to the 
Bible, which I happened to answer, and being thus informed 
he gave immediate orders for the opening of my chains. 'I was 
indulged also to occupy the same tent with Mrs. E, within a 
few yards of the European prisoners ; and, thank God, we both 
say, we were never afterwards separated. 

Thus we remained until that fearful evening the 12th of 
May, only alluded to by Mr. S., when we were tortured. 
Mrs. E., hearing our groans and cries, rushed out of her tent 
towards us, and, with the baby in her arms (who was then only 
ten months old), was beaten, knocked down, trod upon, and 
dragged back to the tent senseless. The marks of this treat- 
ment were visible after many days. That evening the poor 
child relapsed, and remained weak and sickly for many months. 
When Mrs. E. revived, she lamented and agonized over the 


supposed death of myself and Mr. S. I was at last conducted 
back to her, lacerated, and with the distorted features of a 
madman. The same tragedy was reperformed the following 
evening upon three of us, and Mrs. R.'s sad pleasure consisted 
afterwards in healing our impotent arms. I was again chained, 
and have remained so ever since. 

"We passed the incessant rains of a tropical winter in an old 
torn tent, experienced many disappointed hopes, were dragged 
two and two, chained together, across the country on mules, 
every moment in danger of pulling one another off our animals 
and breaking our necks ; and on arriving here were huddled 
together with about 200 persons of various ranks, ages, and 
sexes, with real or supposed crimes attached to them, and vari- 
ously chained, and stuffed into a place about sixty feet in dia- 
meter. Mrs. R. is not, nor ever was, tied, although she is con- 
sidered a prisoner. 

September 16th, 1865. 

Tou remember that the whole affair of our imprisonment 
turns around the Grovernment Letter. Had the same arrived 
a year ago, without any further comment, it is probable that 
we had long ago enjoyed liberty. Would the same were pre- 
sented, even with ceremony or without it — delivered either by 
an Englishman or an Abyssinian ! we are pretty confident 
that, if not permitted to leave the country, our imprisonment 
would at least be at an end. 

So the whole matter finishes in this : — On account of this 
oft-mentioned letter, kept in some secluded spot of the uni- 
verse for some time longer, we have no other hope but to 
remain to an indefinite period in Magdala, or some other un- 
pleasantly elevated locality of the Abyssinian highlands, until 
its arrival. The difference, however, which now exists is this : 
— Formerly the King only desired an answer. The proposal 
was made to him that a gentleman should forward that docu- 
ment, and at the same time effect a reconciliation between the 


two parties. It only stands to reason that the Negus expects, 
as the case remains, that both should be carried out. And the 
one without the other would not be sufficient to effect our 

There is still another and serious consideration. His Ma- 
jesty has been informed so often of the arrival at Massowah of 
the letter, without its making its appearance liere, that if it 
does not come soon, or that gentleman at Massowah does not 
find an open road to forward it, His Majesty might think tiiat 
all the letter affiiir is a delusion, only practised tipon hiin to 
get us quietly out of the country. And if he lias once made u]) 
his mind this way, it might be a bad job for us. You are 
aware that untutored minds are very much open to suspicion. 
We should not forget, however, that Mr. Eassam in his gene- 
rosity offered to come, and would have come too had he received 

But one must take the King as he is. He was in full power, 
and perhaps did not care for friendship then, and therefore 
not for the causing of mediation. His pride was wounded in 
not receiving an answer to his letter. This he wanted, and 
nothing else. Had it arrived at the first, there is no doubt he 
would have said, " I am satisfied now ; they have offended me, 
but I have shown them that I have my own will." And with 
this our experience in prison life would have ceased. It should 
be remembered, however, that no one could imagine that such 
a kind proposal should have been refused. According to our 
notion a letter from so high a personage (as the Queen) should 
be delivered with every decorum and eclat ! In an Abyssinian 
dictionary it may be, " anyhow, so long as it does come." 



Petition to the Emperor Theodore from the Relatives of 
the Captives, and Correspondence betweeti His Ma- 
jesty and Dr. Beke. 


In the name of tlie Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost, One God. 

May this letter from the distressed relatives of the unfor- 
tunate white prisoners at Magdala come to His Most Excel- 
lent Majesty, Theodore, by the Grace of God, King of the 
Kings of Ethiopia. 

Are you well, King ? Are you very well ? We are all 
well in health, thanks be to God ! though sorely troubled in 
mind, because those we love have incurred your Eoyal dis- 

Humbly at the feet of your Majesty we plead for mercy and 
pardon to the wretched Europeans who have been so long in 

The wife of Stern and her four young and helpless children 
mourn the absence, and need the support of, a tender and be- 
loved husband and father. 

It has pleased God to take the husband of the mother of 
Ellen Eosenthal, and she and her other two children are poor, 
and she has now only her daugliter and her daugliter's hus- 
band, Eosenthal, to whom she could look for support and 
comfort in her old age. 

The aged mother of Consul Cameron is pining with grief 
that her darling son should have been kept so long from her 
widowed arms. She longs to see him once more, and to bless 
him before she dies *. 

Kerans is the beloved son of a father and mother, who, 

* This consolation was denied to the poor old lady. She died on 
November 2nd, 1865, as is mentioned in papre 21(5 of this work. 


through his loug captivity, are deprived of tlie prop of their 
declining years. 

The brothers and sisters and other relatives of all the 
prisoners are weeping to behold the dear faces that have been 
so long withh olden from them, 

AU appeal to your Majesty's good feelings as a liusband 
and a father, earnestly imploring you to comfort the afflicted 
and to dry the tears of the sorrowful, by extending to their 
unhappy relatives the clemency and magnanimity whicli you 
have so often shown even to your bitterest enemies. 

We ask for mercy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
in whose Holy Gospel it is written, " Forasmucli as ye have 
done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it 
unto me." 

And may the Holy Trinity reward you a hundredfold : and 
we, your suppliants, will ever pray that blessings may await 
you and your whole house, that you may overcome all your 
enemies, that prosperity may attend your reign, and that your 
children's children to all generations may sit on tlie throne of 
Menilek and Tekuna Amlak. 

Chablotte E. Steek, Wife of the Eev. H. A. Stem. 

CiiAELOTTE E. Stebk, Daughter of the same. 

Evelina C. Steen, Daughter of the same. 

Louisa M. Steek, Daughter of the same. 

Heney a. Steen, Son of the same. 

Aletta Cameeon, Mother of Consul Cameron. 

M. Desboeough, Sister of the same. 

L. Desboeough, Brother-in-law of tlie same. 

E. Blackall, Sister of the same. 

A. Blackall, Brother-in-law of the same. 

L. C. Desboeough, Nephew of the same. 

C. H. Desboeough, Niece of the same. 

Laweence O. Keeans, M.D., Father of Lawrence Kerans. 

Augusta A. Kerans, Mother of the same. 

T. S. Keeans, Brother of the same. 


39,'2 APPENDIX. 

Geo. IvEKA^■s, Brother of the game. 

EoBEUT Keeans, Brother of L. Kerans. 

Lyons Keeans, Brother of tlie same. 

Anna Keeans, Sister of the same. 

Saeah Keeans, Sister of the same. 

Elizabeth Keeans, Sister of the same. 

C. H. PuEDAY, Father-in-law of the Rev. H. A. Stern. 

Maey Ann Pueday, Mother-iu-law of the same. 

M. A. PuRDAY, Sister-in-haw of the same. 

Elizabeth C. Pueday, Sister-in-law of the same. 

"Wm. R. Moeoan, Clerk, Brother-in-law of the same. 

C. H. Pueday, Jun., Brother-in-law of the same. 

J. T. Pueday, Brother-in-law of the same. 

F. S. Pueday, Brother-iu-iaw of the same. 

S. T. MoEGAN, Sister-in-law of the same. 

M. Young, Mother of Mrs. Rosenthal. 

E. EisNEE, Sister of the same. 

L. EiSNEE, Brother-in-law of Mr. Rosenthal. 

E. Rosenthal, Sister of the same. 

Letter from Dr. BeJce accompanying the foregoing Petition. 

In the name of tlie Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy- 
Ghost, One God. 

This letter comes from the Englishman, Charles Theodore * 
Beke, to His Most Excellent Majesty, Teddros, by the Grace 
of God, King of the Kings of Ethiopia. 

* When I first went to Abyssinia in 1840, 1 took "Theodore " as 
my travelling name. I could not use my own name, Charles or 
Kdi-olos, as this would immediately have been changed to Kerelos or 
CjTil. I therefore adopted Theodore from my motto, A Deo omne 
Donum, — in Greek, Ek OEOY nav Ai2P0N. That it happened to be 
the name of the Teodros of prophecy was no objection at that time ; 
but since Kassai has assumed this name, he does not like it to be 
borne by any one else. I have therefore thought it well to retain the 
English form, Theodore. I coxdd not consistently drop the name 
altogether, being known by it in Abyssinia. 


I am a countryman of Plowden and Bell, who were both mv 
friends. Twenty years ago, before those friends settled in 
Abyssinia, I went through the whole of that country. 1 
found the country to be very good, but divided into many 
provinces, always fighting one against another ; and I knew 
that, unless a strong hand gave peace and security, Abyssinia 
never could become a rich and powerful kingdom. 

Many years passed away, and I heard that all the Princes 
of Abyssinia had been conquered by one great and powerful 
Monarch, who had seated himself on the tin-one of Mcnilek. 
I longed once more to visit Abyssinia, but the dealh of Plow- 
den and Bell disheartened me. 

I then went to Jerusalem with my wife, and we visited the 
Holy Places ; and afterwards we were sitting quietly at home, 
when the news arrived that Consul Cameron and the English 
Missionaries had incurred your Eoyal displeasure. 

When the relatives of the captives heard this, they were 
much grieved, and they asked me, knowing Abyssinia so 
well, to go out and supplicate your- Majesty in their names 
for their pardon and release. The brother of Bell, who is far 
away in America, requested me also to beg for mercy in the 
name of his brother, whom you loved so well. 

My wife has come with me, in the hope that j'ou will 
not refuse her prayers joined to mine. 

Thus we have left England, and w-ish to come to you, O 
King, to make our supplications at your feet. We have ar- 
rived at Massowah, and intend to leave this place imme- 
diately. We know not yet what road we shall take ; but we 
shall do our best to reach your Eoyal presence. 

We have brought with us a few choice presents. 

By the friendship you always showed to Plowden and Bell, 
I supplicate you then, O King, to allow me and my wife 
to come to you in safety, and to pardon and liberate the un- 
fortunate captives ; which act of mercy will bring down 
upon you and your house the blessing of Grod, and will 

394 ' APPENDIX. 

secure to you the thanks and friendship of the whole British 

(l.Sj Chaeles T. Beke. 

Written at Massowah, 
January 29tli, 1866. 

Second Letter from Dr. Bele to the Emperor TJieodore. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Grhost, One God. 

This letter comes from the Englishman, Charles Theodore 
Beke, to His Most Excellent Majesty, Theodore, by the Grace 
of God, King of the Kings of Ethiopia. 

On my arrival at Massowah with my wife more than two 
months ago, I wrote to you, O King, acquainting you with our 
desire to come to you, to supplicate for the pardon and release 
of the unfortunate white captives, who have so long lain under 
your royal displeasure. With my letter I sent a Petition from 
the relatives of the captives, on whose behalf we have under- 
taken our journey to Abyssinia. 

"We were told that the people of Halai loved your Majesty, 
and we also heard of the victory which Dedjatj Tekla Georgis 
had gained over Deras. We therefore thought we might 
come to Halai without danger. On our arrival I immediately 
sent a messenger to the Dedjazmatj with a letter, telling him 
of our wish to reach your Majesty's Court, and asking for an 
escort. He sent me back a very friendly answer, saying that 
he would have come here before, had it not been for the cholera, 
which had unfortunately broken out in his camp ; but that he 
stiU hoped to come here soon. 

We remained some time in peace at Halai, till Tesfaldat, a 
relative of Gebra Medhin, came with his soldiers, and wanted 
to take us to Gebra Medhin. But, as the people of Halai 
would not consent to this, he adjured them by the God of 
Gobazye and the God of Gebra Medliin, not to let us de- 


part, under a penalty of 1000 muskets and 1000 carpets, with 
as many dollars as there are stones and as much gunpowder 
as there is dust in Halai. "We hear that Gcbrii ]Medhiu has 
sent to say this was done without his orders ; but we are still 
his prisoners, being unable to continue our journey witliout his 

Therefore I intreat you, O King of Kings, to send and free 
us from the power of your enemies, and bring us in safety to 
your presence, so that we may repeat at your feet our prayer 
for the pardon of the captives ; or, if it be true, as we have just 
heard, that you have been graciously pleased to liberate them, 
that we may come and thank you in the names of their rela- 
tives and friends. 

The presents intended for your Majesty remain at Massowah, 
till we are able by your assistance to bring them in safety to 

Lest my former letter with the Petition from the relatives 
of the captives should not have reached you, I now send a copy 
of both, concluding in the words of our Lord and Saviour, 
" Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." 

May God preserve your Majesty. Amen. 

Written at Halai, ^Q), Chakles T. Beke. 

April 3rd, 1866. 

Letter from the Emperor Theodore to Dr. Beke. 

In the name of the Eather, and of the Son, and of tlie Holy 
Ghost, One God. 

The King of Kings, Teodros (says), may this reach the 
Englishman, Charles Theodoi-e Beke. 

Until thou and thy wife, by the power of God, sliall meet 
me, are you well ? I, God be j)rai8i>d, am w(41. 


Be it so*. At what time suits you, come by Matamma. 

As regards the persons who were imprisoned, by the power 
of God, out of friendship for the Queen of England, I have 
liberated them and given them to Mr. Hormuz Rassam. May 
this give you pleasui'e. 

Written at Zagye, in the 7358th year since the Creation of 
the World, and the ISSStli year since the Birth of Christ. 

Second Letter from the Emperor Theodore to Dr. Beke. 
(Original in English.) 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Grhost, One Grod 

From the King of Kings, Tlieodorus, to Doctor Charles The- 
dore Beke. 

How are you ? Thank Grod, Ave are quite well. 

We have received your letter of the 3rd of April. We are 
sorry for what has befallen you at Hallai. Whj did you go 
up there, when you knew there were disturbances in the coun- 
try, without first asking us permission ? 

I have ordered the Chiefs in that neighbourhood to send you 
back to Massowah in safety ; and if any accident happen to you, 

* Ushi, in Amharic, is the general expression of assent to or com- 
pliance with a request. I asked the Emperor for permission to com(> 
to him : lie answers " Eshi." 


I shall hold them responsible, and I shall punish them acrord- 
iug to their deserts. 

I have already answered your first letter by Mr. Elad, and 
in my reply directed you to come via Matamma ; but now on 
your return to Massowah, you are to remain there until I shall 
inform you what route you are to take. The prisoners, from 
whose families you brought a petition, I have released for the 
sake of my friend the Queen, and have made them over to 
Mr. Eassam, to take out with him when he leaves Abyssinia. 

Dated at Zagay, on the 20th day of the month Qinbot, in 
the year of Saint Mark, 1858, corresponding with the 28th day 
of May, 1866. 

Replij from Dr. Beke to the Emperor Theodore's two Letters. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost, One God. 

May this letter reach the King of Kings, Teddros. It 
comes from the Englishman, Charles Theodore Beke. 

May the Eedeemer of the World give your Majesty health 
and prosperity. 

I received in due time your Majesty's letter by Mr. Martin 
Elad, inviting me and my wife to come to you by the way of 
Matamma. I have since received your Majesty's second letter, 
desiring us to await at Massowah your orders as to the way wc; 
should take. 

Ere this you will have heard of the illness of my wife and 
myself, which would not let us stay at Massowah. Having 
received intelligence of the liberation of the European pri- 
soners, we have returned to our native country, where we hope 
to be favoured with your Majesty's further commands. 

The presents I brought from the relatives of the captives, I 
shall send to your Majesty by Mr. Martin Elad. 


I myself and my wife rejoice that your Majesty has gra- 
ciously freed the captives from their chains ; aud we unite with 
their relatives, who long to see once more their dear friends, in 
the prayer that your Majesty will soon perform your promise 
to send them home. 

Written at Bekesbourne, in England, on the 14th of Sep- 
tember, 1866, corresponding with the 5th of Maskarrem, in 
the year of St. Luke, 1859. 

(l.S) Chaeles T. Beke. 


Printed by Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. 

Mrs. Beke's Work on the Holy Land. 








miti) jllluigtration^. 





Mrs. Beke explains iu the preface that the jom-ney here descriljed 
was undertaken by her husband and herself with the view of establish- 
ing, from personal observation, the correctness of the opinions wliich 
the former had expressed in his ' Origines Biblicte ' respecting the 
Pati'iarch Abraham's place of residence in Padan Aram, and the road 
taken by his grandson Jacob in his Flight from that counbry over Mount 
Gilead into the Land of Canaan. Dr. Beke has contributed an intro- 
ductory chapter to his wife's work, and has also added here and there 
passages which describe, for scientific geogTaphers and historical stu- 
dents, the motives of his journey and the character of his inquiries; 
the whole of the work, moreover, having passed under his supervision. 
Thus we have the best combination that we could desire towards ma- 
king a book of travel interesting : the freshness, the willingness to be 
pleased, and the all-observant eagerness which generally give interest 
to a woman's narrative of her travels, and the sound information and 
careful accuracy which we have a right to expect from so practised a 
ti-aveller and so distinguislied a geogi'apher as Dr. Beke. Mrs. Beke 
has told her story in a gentle, chatty, womanly style, that will at once 
recommend it to aU readers. They will also find that, when they have 

pleasantly occupied a few hours in its perusal, they have acquired a 
great deal of important information on a subject of high interest, both 
in a historical and in an imaginative point of view. — John Bull. 

Mrs. Beke's pleasant book, besides the chai-m of its naiTation and 
adventures, is illustrated with several well-executed lithographs. As 
a record of travel through a deeply interesting region, the volume is 
attractive and valuable ; but its value is still greater as a reverent, a 
careful, and, as we think, a successful attempt to throw new light upon 
an important passage in the history of the ancient Church of God. — 

A volume of travels in the Holy Land needs some specialty of pur- 
pose or achievement to give it interest, and even to justify it 

Dr. P>eke had a purpose, and he has au achievement, which give flavour 

and interest to his wife's narrative of travel Whether Dr. Eeke's 

point is carried or not, his wife has given us a sprightly and amusing 
book. — Patriot. 

Dr. Beke was quite right in thinking his theory worth a journey into 
the Ilauran and an extremely careful examination of the sites and 
routes. Such a journey of adventures and discoveries was made, in 
company with his wife, in the winter of 1861-62, and a pleasant record 
of their daring ride through the wild Arab comitry has been prepared 

by Mrs. Beke We have to thank Mrs. Beke for a bright and 

charming little book. — Athenccwn. 

It is a narrative of travel of an order and with a pui-pose considerably 
above that of the usual Syrian tours. — Reader. 

Although the Doctor had his own views in taking his courageous 
wife on this adventurous joiu-ney, he has very wisely allowed the ac- 
count of it to be entirely hers. Setting aside all controversial features, 
and looking on the volume only as a description of the country tra- 
versed, we have hardly met with anything so gi-aphic and vividly 
natural since the appearance of that excellent little book on Syria by 
Miss Rogers, whose brother, now consul at Damascus, was of great 
service to the travellers. Mrs. Beke seems to have taken a lively plea- 
sure in astonishing the natives, and certainly her bold horsemanship 
and free use of firearms must have struck the Arab chiefs, who wit- 
nessed them, as something more than natural. Her sex also gained 
her admittance to the women's quarters, a sealed book to most Eastern 
travellei-s, and her amusing account of the women's bath at Damascus 
is not likely to be soon surpassed. There is a degree of freshness, acti- 
vity, and self-reliance about INIrs. Beke, that is almost as rare among 
her countrywomen as the unaffected ease with which she tells her 
tale. — Westminster Revietr. 

She rides and runs about with all the freshness and agility of youth, 
and evidently was the master mind of the little expedition. It is this 
wliicli irives "so much life to the volume, and makes it so readable, 
whichever side of the geograpliical tlieory may be taken. It is, in 
fact, a graphic description of the whoh; tt)ur from Be_\Tout to Damascus, 
then to the Jordan and Shefhrm, back to England agani. Mrs. Beke 

loved the adventures of the East, and the description of thorn is nnui- 
sing and attractive. — Clerical Journal. 

As far as mere argument goes, Dr. Beke certainly seems to have the 
best of it ; and without pretending to decide where two such Innmed 
Doctors as Stanley and l^eke disagree, we cannot help sympathizing 
with the earnest desire of the latter to remove the ditficulti(!s which lie 
in the way of oui* acceptance of this portion of the older Script un-s as 

a genuine fragment of ancient history The hook is everywhere 

readable and amusing, and many of the descriptions of scenery excel- 
lent. — Theological Review. 

We have been veiy much pleased with the brief record of travel 
here presented to us. The narrative is exceedingly graphic and life- 
like ; and, with its pictorial embellishments, suffices to set before us 
in the clearest light the scenes which were visited. . . . Their route 
lay partly through a district little known to Europeans, and therefore 
the book befoi-e us is a real acquisition to the students of Jiiblical geo- 
graphy. As a record of events and facts observed, and as a well writ- 
ten naiTative of a romantic tour, we can strongly reconmieud it to the 
attention of our readers. — Journal of Sacred Literature. 

Not only as a book giving the details of earnest purposes and dili- 
gent research, will Mrs. Beke's NaiTative be accepted, but it will take 
a high place amongst those descriptions of adventure whicli always 
find favour amongst our countrymen and countrywomen. It reads with 
all the interest of a novel ; but the nnxrvellous is never drawn upon, 
and we feel as we proceed page after page that many an event is toned 
down rather than made the most of. In fact the simple-minded, 
matter-of-fact manner in which Mrs. Beke writes, convinces at once 
that what she says may be thoroughly relied upon as authentic, and 
that she has contributed an amount of information, especially upon tiie 
question of the locality of liarran, which cannot possibly have a mere 
ephemeral value. — Bell's Weekly Messetiger. 

Mrs. Beke gives us a very pleasant narrative of this excm-sion, with 
some excellent illustrations. — Spectator. 

The book is lively and amusing for the devotion with wliich the 
wife accepts and enforces the theories of the hush&nd.— Guardian. 

Mrs. Beke makes out an admirable case ; the facts seem to be all on 
her side, and we must leave it to the advocates of traditional interpre- 
tation to pick a hole in it if they can. Independently of the theologi- 
cal purpose of the work, it is full of interest as a book of travels.— 
Daily Nexvs. 

The narrative of the " Pilgrimage " is written by Mrs. Beke, whose 
graceful pen was happily employed in describing the places through 
which thev journeved and the people with whom they camein (.-on- 
tact, while her husband prosecuted his inquiry into the traditions of 
the T^Bst.— Morning Post. 

The book is really deserving of attentive perusal, and combines much 
that is ori<?inal with a strong dash of adventure. — Englishman. 

The narrative of Mrs. Beke is lively aud full of point, — Morning 

This is a very interesting book of travel through a countr}', reliable 
details of which always possess a charm for Christian readers. — 
Kentish Gazette. 

The narrative, which is writteii in a pleasing style, is entitled to re- 
spectful attention, as well for its own intrinsic merit and the nature of 
its subject, as for the valuable introduction written by Dr. Beke, and 

the map and illush-atious with which the volume is enriched 

Upon the whole, a more agreeable narrative of travel has rarely been 
offered to public notice. — ^S'i^. James's Chronicle. 

From Mrs. Beke's pages may be culled numerous interesting bits of 
local information, which are often happily illustrated by her observa- 
tions, and supported by her husband's opinions on matters historical, 
ethnological, and etymological. — London Revieio. 

A woman's story can hardly fail to contain fresh matter, and Mrs. 
Beke has used well her opportunities of studying female life and cha- 
racter in some of the strictest and most exclusive corners of the East. 
— Exanmwr. 

Though Mrs. Beke has given a substantial value to the account of 
her travels by the introduction of references to Holy Scripture, and by 
throwing light upon many questions connected with the geography of 
Palestine, yet her volume, on the whole, is a lively, interesting record 
of personal adventures and travels, for which she seems excellentlyfitted. 
Her pages abound in gi'aphic sketches of the manners and interesting 
details of the lives of the dwellers in the wilderness east of the Jordan. 
. . . .We take our leave of this little book with that feeling of gTatitude 
which politicians feel when they desire future favoiu's. — Cliurchman. 

From these specimens, our readers, we feel assured, will be inclined 
to look at the remainder of the volume ; and, if they do, we make no 
doubt of their tlianking us for directing: their attention to it. — Globe. 

Price 125. Crown octavo. 



Or Eesearciies in Primeval Histouy. Vol. I., 8vo, with a Map. 7.s. 

The Author's views in Scripture History, Geography, and Ethnolugy are fully 
enunciated in this volume, though the second, intended to contain their further 
development, has not apj>eared. 


The Cla.ssification op Languages, the Progress of Civilization, the 
Natural History of Man. 8vo, Is. 


Second Edition, 8vo, Is. 

Taylor and Francis. 


Being a Gfjjeral Survey op that River and op its Head-Stre.\.m.s; with the 
History of Nilotic Discovery. 8vo, with Six Maps, 6s. 


» A Letter to Sir Roderick I. Murchison, K.C.B., F.R.S., President of the Royal 

Geographical Society. Second Edition, 8vo, Is. 

James Madden, and Williams and Norgate. 


On the Subject of the Exodus or the Israelites and the Position of Mount 
Sinai. Tliii-d Edition, 8to, Is. 

Williams and Norgate. 














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